My whole life I've strived to do one thing above all else. Be a good friend. Time after time, I've put the interests of those I consider friends above my own. A courtesy that is rarely if ever returned. Not that I have ever asked for, nor expected such in return. I was raised that you don't do something expecting a reward. Expecting anything in return. You do it because it is the right thing to do. A belief that more and more seems to be mine alone.
I do everything I can to be good to those around me, even when they hurt me. Even when they let me down, because I care. Because I want them to be happy, to succeed. Even when it costs me the things I want most in life. After all, you must always put others first. You help them get where they want to go, where they need to go and you can worry about yourself afterwards. Only there never seems to be an afterwards.
One issue turns into two, turns into three. There are always other friends in need. Other emergencies that seem to be the most dire things in the world, when in most cases, they aren't. But you can't take that stance when someone is hurting. You treat the issue as if it is of the upmost importance, because to them, it is. Empathy is a way of life. But it cuts you deeply.
The more you make an effort to understand other people's pain, the more you see how little the care about your own. You drop everything when they have an issue, meanwhile when something goes wrong in your life you're lucky to get a "that sucks text."
You take care of the people around you, not so they will take care of you, but because you can and they need it. You should never expect anything in return. I tell myself that all the time, yet it doesn't mean that I don't occasionally want someone to put me first. To take my pain in consideration. To show consideration for what I'm going through.
But that's not why you put others first. You do it because they need it and you can handle it. I honestly believe that. I do. Yet when friends that you time and again, bend over backwards for, attack you the second you don't help them. The second you disagree on something. It hurts.
The number of people who will immediately forget everything you have done on their behalf, is mind blowing. It's as if you had never shown them support. You had never been there for them. All their trespasses against you lay forgotten in the past, but suddenly yours are up for debate.
If it was one or two friends, it would be a passing concern. Yet it is so much more than that. More and more it seems as if it is one or two friends who truly care. Who see friendship as I do.
Loyalty means everything to me, yet is meaningless to so many people in my life. I've thrown away relationships that meant more to me than I can ever express due to loyalty to friends who turned on me for strangers.
You don't do for others expecting them to do for you in return. I believe this. I do. Yet if I were to say that my heart doesn't break every time a friend doesn't return even the most basic of considerations, I'd be liar.
As I've gotten older, I've started to notice how people just use one another. As if the other person doesn't have feelings, doesn't have emotions. As if their point of view isn't valid. People get so wrapped up in their own narrative that they can't see from any point of view that isn't theirs. I've started to notice how it causes them to lash out at anyone who doesn't agree with them. I seen how you can have a conversation with someone and they don't listen to a word you say. Because while you may be having a conversation, they are just monologuing, using your replies as places to take a breath. Instead of listening to what someone else has to say, they just wait for a chance to reply.
You can't get anything out of those conversations. They never lead anywhere useful. The other person already has the whole conversation played out and they are determined to get it all out. No matter what it is you say in return.
I've had friends that I've gone to great lengths to defend even when they have been in the wrong. Only to have them turn around and take part in the assassination of my character. I've had friends who I've gone to bat for, only to later hear how it wasn't enough, or never happened. I've stepped in to stop friends from being harassed online, only to have them join in and attack me on behalf of my harasser.
You don't do for others, expecting to get anything in return. I honestly believe that, but I never expected that what I would get in return is disrespect. Outright contempt. I've sacrificed so much in my effort to be a good friend. To do everything, for everybody. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if it's all been worth it. What does it get you to be kind? What does it get you to be loyal? What does it get you to build the people around you up?
I don't know the answers. I wish I did. Believe me, I'd do anything to know the answers. Have I wasted all this time? Doing for people who wouldn't think twice about walking over my burning corpse? I don't have the answers, but I know what I believe. If you are able, you should always do for those around you. Even if they don't return the kindness. Even if they return the kindness with contempt. Even if they think nothing wrong with tearing you down when your back is turned.
Why? Because it is the right thing to do and because I am able. You can't control other people's actions. You can't make other people see the world as you do. You can't expect anyone to put their needs on hold to help someone else. So you do it. You build those around you up. You show them loyalty and respect. When it's not given in kind, you bite your tongue and help them deal with whatever is causing the anger inside of them. To do otherwise is not in the spirit of being a good friend. A task I've been working towards my whole life.
Jonathan Gutheinz vents about everything under the sun.