Friday, April 29, 2011

Personal Experience: "Buy Me a New One", Said I

In this post I want to share a personal experience with some friends in my childhood. For some period of time in my childhood I had the problem of not being able to say "No!". And the friends that I had at the time took advantage of that as far as they could.

Of course the story does not cover every aspect of the friendship, but it does shade some light on how things were going in general. So one of the things that used to piss me off is that they would borrow stuff and never return them back. They would borrow something and promise to return it next week. A week turns into weeks, and weeks turn into months, and then they would mysteriously lose the item. And things have been like that for a few years.

At some point, I decided that enough is enough, and that things need to change. So, I stopped lending them stuff. Everytime they ask for something, I would just refuse to give it to them. However, one of my friends decided to be persistent one time. He wanted to borrow a cassette from my cassette collection, and he just won't take no for an answer. So, I finally gave it to him on the condition that he returns it a week later. A week passed and he did not return the cassette yet, so I decided to keep nagging him until he returns it. So, everytime we meet I would ask him to return the cassette, and he'd say he's not done with it, he needs another week. Same old way that it used to be. And as usual after like two months he apologizes and tells me that he lost the cassette and couldn't find it.

Of course, this was something very predictable and I had my comeback prepared. So I told him: "Okay, no problem, it happens... People lose stuff sometimes... Buy me a new one!". I could see it in his eyes, he didn't see that one coming!! I instantly went back home, and told him that next time I see him, he must have the replacement cassette. And from that day on, everytime my friends would call and ask me to play, I tell them that I won't do it until I get my cassette back.

Few weeks later, my friends decided to make some kind of intervention. They told me that they wanted to talk to me in a very urgent and persistent fashion. Basically the whole group was there to discuss why I don't go out with them anymore. I explained to them the situation, and told them that the only way that the situation could be resolved is by giving me a replacement cassette. I told them that I don't care who gets me the cassette, even if the guy who lost it refuses to buy a new one, any one of them can buy me a new one and the situation would be resolved. No-one volunteered to do that, although it was a reasonable demand since each one of them has on multiple occasions borrowed something from me and never returned it back.

Instead they apologized and made every possible accusation or argument so as not to do that. Some took the moral high-ground and claimed that ending a friendship over a cassette is wrong, because friendship transcends material possessions. Others complained that it is unfair that I punish them for someone else's mistake. Some said I am overreacting. In short, they were all ready to do anything and everything to keep the friendship, except buy me a replacement cassette!!

Needless to say, I never got my cassette back, and I never played or hung out with them ever again.

The moral of the story is not to stand up for yourself. Of course, you should stand up for yourself. And I did that, and I am happy I did. But that's not why I am telling this story. The thing is that I was not always someone who couldn't say no. Certainly not when I met those guys. Quite the opposite I used to be someone who almost never shared anything, or give anyone anything. Our friendship was not always about me being an over-sharer, at least that's not how it started.

The problem is that when I became an over-sharing person, the friendship itself changed. What started out as healthy friendship of fun and games, transformed into a bottomless desire to take and never give back. They became so used to the fact that they can take stuff and never give them back, to the point that this became something they take for granted. It became an unchangeable aspect of the friendship.

So, the point is: Be nice and generous to people, but not to the point that your niceness or generosity is the only reason they are with you. And if you see some unacceptable behavior in your relationship, deal with it promptly before it becomes a habit that is difficult to break.

PS: Inspired by this entry


Haitham Seelawi said...

You somewhat remind me of something going on in my life nowadays. My "alpha" group of friends, if I may say so, is getting extremely boring. Some of them are still my best friends, while the others are dropping out of my circle of close buddies, even my circle of buddies.

Regardless, what do you play? Starcraft, CS, Warcraft, Dota, guitar hero, PlayStation games?

Devil's Mind said...

No, out on the streets most of the time. Or at one of our friends' house, whose parents were never home. It ranges from football, hide and seek, and all those childish delights. I am talking about the ages of 8 till 14!

Rain said...

I love the story,so cute of a kid to stand up for himself lol
There's another point to this which is friendship expiry date...I don't mean that in a bad way,but sometimes your mind seems to grow in a different direction from your friends,and you seem to be orienting in another direction,in my opinion when that happens it is only healthy and natural for a friendship to end...gradually and slowly,you simply take the path you chose and so do they
I don;t know why people resist that or consider it betrayal of friendship,I think each level of someone's life has its own people and it's not healthy to jump to the next level with the people from the previous one,unless of course they're oriented in the same way you are

k2eny tle3t 3n el mwdoo3?0_O
Anyway,as for people taking advantage of you I happen to have experienced that and thank god I learned how to deal with it,people tend to suck your blood when they notice you don't say no..

Devil's Mind said...

"I think each level of someone's life has its own people and it's not healthy to jump to the next level with the people from the previous one,unless of course they're oriented in the same way you are" - Completely agreed. This is a lot f what I was feeling back then. That you change yourself, but others are used to you being another way. And their expectations from you hold you back. It is very difficult to change when everybody expects you to be the same old person that you were. That's the point when you know that you just have to let go, and start fresh.

And for me, asking for the cassette was about getting an acknowledgement from them that things have changed, more than anything else. It wasn't about the cassette, and it wasn't about standing up for myself. It was about declaring a new era. An era that was gonna happen with or without them. And their refusal was a sign that they wouldn't allow for change to happen, and so they were out of the equation.