“It makes me wonder if I’ve ever done that to someone – not been the friend they needed.” This was part of a comment Eric left on my 100% Blast Of The Past post the other day. For the ones that have not read the post, it’s about what we feel is giving 100% and the fact that someone’s 100% might not seem like 100% to us because we expect more but for them it is 100%, it’s as much as they can do or give. It is also a post about friendship.
I often wondered in that particular friendship if my friend sees me as as important of a friend as I saw her. Back then I often thought it was not the case. I often thought I invest more of my emotion, of myself in this friendship. Today I know that it’s not the case. I know I was as important to her as she was to me. Her 100% just looked different to mine. Or better: They were different than what I expected from her.
And that’s what I answered Eric. It was actually not as if SHE was not the friend I needed. She was. I just did not receive it that way and simply labeled it as being less than 100% involvement. It was about my expectation. I expected it to be different. I expected her to show it in a different way. In a way I wanted it to be. I had my picture in my head of what it was supposed to be like. For many years I often thought that while she was my best friend I was just a friend to her. A good friend but not the best friend. I know now that it was very different. Sometimes it takes a trip, a death in the family and a dinner before heading back to Down Under to realize how wrong you’ve been.
I’m sure this is only one example of how often we turn something into something it’s not. either by making it bigger or by making it smaller. By making it more important than it is or less. We label. We let our own expectation get in the way of how it truly is. We paint our picture of the situation and consider it fact. And in doing so we actually change so much.
Life is not about how we want it do be. Life is not simply painted in the pictures we draw. Life is not about our expectations. Life is about everything. It’s a mishmash of colors used by all the ones involved in our life to paint their pictures. It’s about how they see things and how we see them and how those views overlap. Friendships and relationships work when we cherish the part that overlaps. They rarely work well when we make it about what we expect it to be and about what we want it to be.
Expectation can be a big word, used in a big way. It can be the one thing that makes us go further and reach higher because we expect a certain something form ourselves. It can be a good thing.
It can also be a bad thing. It can be a bad thing when it’s hiding in the corner but constantly glazes at us and makes us question everything. When it makes us want to influence and change things or others. It’s then when it becomes an obstacle rather than a driving force.
Sometimes the labels we give, the expectations we have can be destructive. They cloud our view, dip it in thick, dense, grey fog. It can destroy friendships, relationships, workplace relations and in the end us. It’s important to free ourselves up again every now and then. Take that step back and reconsider. Is it really how it is or are we making it look that way?
In my case my expectation, the label I gave this particular friendship many years ago lead to the two of us not seeing each other for many years. We caught up again and everything was great again but I kept an emotional distance because I had made my mind up about not being as important of a friend to her as she used to be to me. I simply didn’t want to invest myself in such a way any longer. So we had a good friendship but with a certain distance. And of course when you then move to the other side of the planet it just kind of stays that way.
I was surprised when I got a call from her shortly after having moved to Australia telling me about her being pregnant and her partner of over a decade walking out on her because of that. I was surprised that she called me, that she told me all of it. I never brought it up though. We caught up each time we’ve been back to Switzerland and it was always simply great. My kids love her, my husband thinks she is great and I… well, I love her to bits. Last time she picked us up from the airport late at night and we slept at her house, meeting her husband and seeing her beautiful children again. And then, when we were on our way back we again crashed at hers and she took us to the airport at a time that I still don’t consider officially morning but rather night. It was that night she told me how important I always was to her. In the entire conversation about life and losses, our parents, our history, our lives… And it was an eye opener.
It was never about what she felt. It was always about what I thought she would. And while we are back to the kind of conversation we had over the last years, where we text each other news and try to arrange a Skype or Facetime “date”, we simply don’t manage to.
Sometimes things don’t need to be said. Sometimes you don’t need to talk or see each other on a daily basis. Sometimes things are simply there. So let them be there. Let go of your expectations…