In the last eight days, two different friends have read me the riot act – about two different issues. Besides causing me to wonder briefly if I’m a total loser, both have made me think harder about the choices I’m making.
Friendships have their obvious rewards, but they also have their hazards. Each person brings to a friendship their own biases, perspectives, and stresses: partners, kids, parents, jobs, finances, time and energy. One dear friend can be counted on to bring her PMS if it’s hanging around.
We tend to project our own expectations onto those we love. We only want the best for them, after all, but what a friend thinks is best for me may not jibe with my own ideas. And while I think that women tend to know more about each other than men do about their male friends, parts of us remain enigmatic even to ourselves. Who knows me better – me, or my nearest and dearest?
I’ve spent most of my life trying to live up to other people’s expectations, often not even knowing what my own were. I’ve been working hard to change that, so right now I’m very sensitive to anyone, friend or not, who tries to tell me how to live my life.
I’m still processing both of these encounters. Friend #1 had a point, but there’s a lot about my life that she doesn’t know. After our exchange, I felt a little like I’d been attacked. While I’ve spent some time reflecting on her opinion, if anything, the incident has made me question our friendship more than my behavior.
But friend #2 nailed me. She did it with love, validating and even valuing my perspective but trying to pound into my head that really, I was being an idiot and doing nothing but hurting myself. Her intervention, unwelcome at the outset, felt like a bucket of cold water in the face, and it’s brought me to a point that I’ve been trying to reach for a very long time.
Anyone can agree with you, and sometimes we all need that support more than anything. But only a true friend can step up and be brutally honest – and still make you feel loved.