How well do we really know the people we’re loyal to and consider among our trusted friends? Have you ever said to yourself, “They’re not who I thought they were,” after you’ve invested your time, confidence, and belief in another person? People don’t usually reveal the core of who they are right away. And there’s nothing wrong with holding back. We don’t need to expose every aspect of our lives to the people we’re getting to know on a personal level too quickly (this is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way, time and time again). But when a person whom you trust leads you to believe that they’re someone who they’re not, it can be hurtful at the very least. And sometimes, you’re left stunned when they take off their disguise.
A longtime friend of mine recently showed me his true colors. And they were colors that I definitely didn’t want in my crayon box! I found myself in a situation where I needed help and he was the one I called upon. I’m not one to ask for help often. My friend knew this about me. I didn’t need money, or anything of material value. And I wasn’t asking him to do anything illegal, or that would result in any kind of negative consequence. Sometimes, we just need someone to get us from Point A to Point B. Whether it’s figuratively, or in this case, literally. I needed a lift. I was feeling stranded. Sure, I could have called Uber. But as a single woman (who just had a few French 75’s), I’m still not sold on the safety of an unknown driver taking me to my home late at night. And why take that chance when someone I’ve known for over a decade, who just took me out to dinner, is standing right in front of me? But when I asked my friend for help, he decided that his social calendar after midnight was more important than the safety of his friend. In fact, it was so important that he left me on the street corner standing alone. I didn’t make a big deal about it, or start an argument. And I’m resourceful enough to find solutions to my own predicaments (in this case, calling a known professional driver). But as I waited for my ride, I decided that if Crayola made a color called “douche bag,” that’s what I would color him. During my drive home, I couldn’t help but think, “I never hesitated to help him during his time of need. Why couldn’t he do the same when the roles were reversed?” I was feeling frustrated, which grew into good old-fashioned pissed off as I recalled the time when this same friend called me late at night after having too many drinks. He needed a ride because he thought the cab fare would be too expensive. I was sick as a dog and working on a huge project for the release of my first book. But I did what I thought good friends do... I shut down my work for the night, threw back some cold medicine, poured a to-go cup of hot tea, and drove the miles it took to get my friend home safely. After I recalled that incident, I began to recount every “good deed” I ever did for my friend. And I stewed over his inability to return the favor in the silence of the town car that intermittently lit up under the highway lights, but then grew dark when we crossed over county lines. It bothered me the whole ride home and even when I woke up the next day.
This isn’t a climactic story with steamy details. But the reason it bothered me so much was that over the past several months, I wasn’t receiving the same kind of friendship that I was dishing out. This was happening with other people who I once considered loyal friends. So I started thinking... Is it me?... Am I the problem? To answer my question, I turned to the smartest man I know - my father. He may be a bit biased when it comes to his own children, but he’s still a straight-shooter. I wondered why a friend would turn his or her back on me when I wouldn’t do it to them? With certainty in his voice, my father told me, “Andrea, you’re a very loyal friend. The only problem is that you expect everyone else to be just as loyal as you are. And most people will never be that loyal.” And there it was, the obvious answer - my expectations of people were too high.
Why do people disappoint us?
It’s because we have expectations of them and they can’t always meet our expectations.
Does that mean we should lower our expectations? Not necessarily. But forecasting someone’s actions and reactions can take your emotions into dangerous territory. You’ll set yourself up for disappointment almost every time. Give people time to reveal themselves before you commit your loyalty to them. And while they may not be acting or reacting the way you hoped - at least they’ll show you the truth of who they are.
The world is full of colorful people. And no one is going to be just like you. Some missteps or fractures in relationships can be healed.
You just have to toss the broken crayons out of the box.