Wednesday, April 23, 2014

who I am and who I want to be

I like a lot of things about myself. I'm honest, a decent listener, an above-average tipper, and friendly when I want to be. But, I confess - there's a type of person I want to be.

I want to be that person who is always there when you need them. Who always sends a note when you need encouragement, knows when to offer to help you out, compliments you on your worst day without even knowing how you feel, and gives a lot of themselves to other people.

The same way I had to learn to say "Thank you for having me over, Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so" as a child, I find myself as an adult needing to learn the social norms of generosity. Being a good friend and a better person. It isn't ingrained in me, and it doesn't come naturally.

I don't know if it's my only-childness, how my brain works, or some combination. When you tell me something is going badly with you, I care, I promise, but I tend to think that you will tell me about the bad stuff if you want to, and if you don't, I should change the subject to something else, like me or the weather. But adult women like to talk. We just need prodding sometimes, and some extra questions, and a little extra time. I'm working on giving all of that.

I'm also working on trying to be the initiator. Perhaps we are all a little scared of our invitations being declined, or we all just assume everyone is busy, but I think a lot of people are shy about inviting people to do things. I know I get that way; I assume if you wanted to hang out, you would ask. But if you assume the same thing about me that I assume about you, will we ever see one another? Not likely. So I am trying to keep track of who I haven't seen in a while, who I want to see, and what that person likes to do. I want to initiate because I want to be friends. I want to initiate email conversations with blog friends when time and content permit.

I forget to send follow-up texts when I know friends have had a job interview, I don't remember dates well at all, and my brain doesn't switch in to "helping out" mode when I'm visiting someone's home. I hate that! I want to be the person who is thoughtful and caring and is there when you need me. It doesn't come naturally, but it's something I want to change. I want to make the effort to be that person.

I envy people for whom empathy and generosity seem organic - they don't to me. I keep tallies in my head when people buy me things and I want to repay them - beyond birthdays or Christmas, it's hard for me to accept something "just because." I am not particularly giving, but I should be: I mean, I have so much and I am very fortunate, but other than donating things that I no longer need or want, my giving spirit is pretty non-existent. I want my heartstrings to be tugged at and to give with a happy heart, not because Sarah McLachlan songs and sad puppy eyes made me do it.

This is one of my struggles, and while there are many other, more real struggles out there, this is something I don't like about myself, something that I can change. And I should! I'm working on asking the follow-up questions of friends, thinking of what I can do to be of help to others, and even giving too big of a bill for two cookies at a charity bake sale at work (baby steps, people. Rome wasn't built in a day.). I want to be that person, and even more, I want it to come naturally. Just like thanking someone who has me in their home is now automatic, I want the rest of it to follow. After all, who doesn't want to add to the things they like about themselves list?


Linking up with Kathy and Steph!

22 comments:

  1. the fact that you even think about these things makes you a great and generous person. a lot of people out there are only in it for themselves and think/act like everyone around them is there to serve them.

    thanks for linking up!

    -kathy
    Vodka and Soda

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  2. i agree - just the fact that you think these things makes you a kind person. i am the same though, i forget to send follow up texts to friends when they go through something, or whatever. but i don't do it maliciously, and i'm sure neither do you, so thats what matters!

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  3. This is me too! I hate to feel that I'm being intrusive and I think that comes across as a bit cold at times. I also have issues with inviting people or initiating interaction, I always feel like I'm bothering others. Which I know stems from my childhood because my Dad would make a big deal about me spending too much time at friends and would say things like "are you sure you didn't invite yourself" or "asking why they invited me". So I know a lot of those kinds of feelings are from that, but it is hard to get over that bit of anxiety. I have a very hard time accepting gifts from others, and always feel awkward about it. I always feel indebted which I know that is not what I'm suppose to feel and that is not the intent.

    I think it is a great goal and wish you luck Lauren:)

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  4. So I like to think I am a generous and caring friend and sibling, and for a long time I was basically the only initiater and it used to really upset me, and I took it so personally. But I as I got older, my friends got way better about it too, and I think I was just ahead of it early on. I think just the fact that you're thinking about it, shows you can do itttt

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  5. Most people to who this doesn't come naturally would never even think about it, so you're ahead of the game.

    You don't have to do all the things - it's exhausting, who can remember dates that aren't their own? - but small steps or just a few things every day will make you feel more connected I bet.

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  6. The fact that these are even your thoughts means you are a good person! Chin up! we are way too hard on ourselves!

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  7. The fact that these are even your thoughts means you are a good person! Chin up! we are way too hard on ourselves!

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  8. I agree with what pretty much everyone else already said. They may not be second nature to you but the fact that you think about these things & want to be that way on a more regular basis already makes you an awesome person!

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  9. I agree with Kathy...for you to even think about this makes you a good person. I am usually good about offering help when I am at other peoples houses and remembering peoples birthdays or special days or what not. Sometimes I forget to ask people how they are when they ask me. I answer and I try to give a better answer than just a good...but then I move on to another subject and don't ask them. Oopsy.

    I think we can ALL improve in the generosity department.

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  10. What! You are like, one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I know. But I totally get it that you want to work on improving yourself because everyone has things like this that they want to work on. PS I would hang with you like, every week but I'm just super lazy so feel free to plan our hangouts whenever ;)

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  11. I think even trying for it makes you already stepping toward where you want to be. I'm in the same boat...while I will be known to make that follow up call, I'm terrible at asking people to do something because I think if they wanted to hang they would and people are just so busy now days. Good luck, I'll be joining you to try and be better about this!

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  12. i want to be this too! i think we could start by maybe making reminders for ourselves. so if we know a friend has an interview we could set a phone reminder to remember to reach out or a reminder to send a card. etc!

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  13. I agree the fact that you consider being better about it makes you miles ahead if those who don't think about it! I think you are kind!

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  14. I definitely prefer to give just because gifts. Giving gifts for birthdays and holidays seems like more of a tit for tat thing- obligation.

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  15. I think this is a great goal. We should all try to better ourselves continually; even if it is a little bit at a time. All of those little things add up to bigger things.

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  16. I know what you mean! I want to be a better person too. Like my mom. She seriously has a heart of gold. Reading this post reminded me I have a friend who had a job interview so I texted her to see how it went. So you are already doing some good.

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  17. Aww your confessions are always so wonderful and heartfelt. Can I say how much I want to be more like you?

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  18. The fact that you think about these things rather than just sweeping them under the rug speaks volumes! :)

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  19. this is SO good. i get this, completely. I wish empathy and generosity flowed from me without my having to think about it!

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  20. I don't know you but I think you might be a bit too hard on yourself! :) It is great to work to improve yourself and I'm sure we all need to do that but I bet you do some of these things w/o even realizing!

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  21. I can totally agree with this for myself; I seriously could have written so much of this! But like so many of the other commenters, I think that being conscious of it puts you way ahead of where you think you are. Caring about being generous and empathetic is a sign that those things are part of you.

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  22. I tend to tally things people buy me, too. I think that urge is not only because I want to pay them back for being so kind to me, but I also don't want to let money get in the way of the friendship. Some people don't care about a dollar here and there, but some people do and I like to avoid that problem before it becomes one.

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