I totally agree with this picture. While I don’t think that you have to be standoffish and mean, I think that less is more when it comes to letting people get super close to you. I know that everyone is human and we all make mistakes and that we can’t expect perfection from our friends but it’s still ok to be cautious before spilling your guts to someone you call a friend but have only known a short time. Someone once said that you should never trust anyone who only has new friends because that’s an indication of the quality of their prior relationships and friendships. Sometimes doing more groundwork on the front end of a friendship or a relationship can save you a lot of heartache and hurt down the road. One thing that I’ve noticed is that I’m somewhat of an extremist when it comes to putting the words in this picture into practice. For instance, every person in my life that I consider close and feel that they know me well I’ve known for three years or more. This was not a conscious decision, it was just something that happened and can probably be blamed in some way on my upbringing. But I digress. My point is that it’s good to screen people and to let them prove that they can be trusted before you open the floodgates of your heart and let them 100% into your life.
One thing that never fails to annoy me is when people state emphatically that people in relationships or married people have no business going to or seeking counsel from people who aren’t married. Now on the surface this perspective appears to make a lot of sense. What business do you have going to someone who isn’t in a relationship themselves to get advice? What if you followed this advice and went to someone who was actually married and their advice wasn’t sound because they could only give counsel in the context of their current situation and could only say what they would do if they were you? One of the reasons that I think that this logic is flawed is that when you apply it to other situations it makes absolutely no sense. Do you refuse to be treated by a medical professional because he or she has never experienced your particular medical challenge? Would you refuse the aid of a lifeguard when you’re drowning because he or she has never been in your predicament before? Or better yet, would you ignore a policeman or a fireman when you’re in a dangerous situation because they haven’t been in your shoes? Absolutely not. The reason why we are willing to trust these people and take their suggestions, directions, and counsel so seriously is because we believe that they have skills we don’t possess and we trust in the quality of their training. The same concept applies to therapists. If someone took the time to get the necessary education and gain the right skills, their current relationship status is irrelevant. A lot of people don’t realize the work that goes into becoming licensed to provide therapy. In addition to a master’s degree, you have to work in the field for 2 years or more after graduation and complete at least 3000 or more work hours depending on your state. I say all this to say that you should trust the training a therapist has instead of writing him or her off because they aren’t just like you. That’s stupid.
I’ve always respected people who could openly show emotions like sadness or happiness in a demonstrative or vocal way in public settings. That’s never been me. There was a time where I would start to become uncomfortable or feel awkward when someone around me would start to cry loudly. However, I have become much more comfortable with emotion as I have done more crisis work. There’s no more awkwardness because I know where the tissues are located and I’m comfortable with giving people some time to cry it out. But when it comes to me, I’m totally different. I’m not the kind of person that will burst into tears in a large group of people. HOWEVER, as much as I can’t cry for myself in those type of situations, I can just as easily cry at the drop of the hat for someone around me that I know is experiencing. It’s something that I’ve been able to do since I was little. I can easily “tune in” to the emotions of other people and that’s probably one of the reasons why I decided to be a therapist. Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to someone who can both empathize but can also challenge you to see things from a different perspective. And honestly, sometimes when someone is going through a really rough or stressful time, they don’t want mountains of advice. They want to feel heard and for someone to cry with them.
Growing up, I always felt that people were overestimating me. I honestly think that as long as homeschooling has been popular, there has been the opinion or perspective that homeschoolers are smarter than their traditionally educated counterparts. Now, whether or not this is true, I don’t know. And I don’t care. When I was little, people would immediately gush over me and my siblings and talk about how smart we must be because we were homeschooled. I grew up knowing that people expected me to succeed in life and become something because I was homeschooled. I didn’t particularly care for it because I found it annoying. Was I smart because I was homeschooled or was I homeschooled because I was smart? For the most part, I did get a chance to live up to the “smart” expectations–at least by society’s measurements. I was a senior in high school at age 15 and had the luxury of finishing high school a month after my 17th birthday and taking a year off to chill out before I went to college. In more recent years, I’ve gotten the chance to separate myself from the “kid genius” expectations and quietly do what I need to do. In fact, the tables have turned to the point where I’m often underestimated. It’s mildly annoying to have people around me assume that I’m still in college or that I don’t have anything going for me. Yet, I’d rather be underestimated than over estimated. Being underestimated can put you in a spot where you are your biggest competition. You have less time to invest in pleasing others or meeting their standards because they don’t expect you to do anything worthwhile. I’m not talking about constantly downplaying your accomplishments, but also not going out your way to be flashy and dramatic about all your future plans. If I ever become “big” or super successful I want it to be unexpected. Being successful doesn’t have to be advertised, it can be discreet. Underestimation isn’t a bad thing–it can even work for you.
This picture really made me think. So many times I’ve heard people say that we get what we deserve. They use this perspective to justify the reason why people can be in numerous toxic relationships. Along with this mindset comes the assumption that if you work on yourself and become better, than you’ll immediately attract a better caliber of people. But the honest truth is I think a lot of people want to feel that their significant other is an upgrade from themselves. I don’t know if people can be literally perfect for each other but I think that they can strongly complement each other. Think about it. Wouldn’t you work harder and do more to keep something you felt you didn’t deserve as opposed to something on your level?
One thing that has really popped up for me in the past few days is the importance of transitions in our lives. Life is full of changes and it often seems as if there isn’t any stability. Transitions occur at so many stages of our lives. They are both planned and unplanned. While we can’t always plan for the transitions, the bigger question is how we respond to them and who do we surround ourselves with while we’re going through. It’s important to know that every transition in our lives comes with the opportunity to learn and grow–regardless of the fact that the circumstances may be less than ideal. There is no such thing as a transition free life because there’s no such thing as problem free life. Transitions happen. And often opportunities for growth are often disguised in the unpleasant or uncomfortable.