Thursday, October 22, 2020

Don't tell me who to be friends with and I'll do the same

I have this problem. It's called "giving a shit what people think of me." Call it vanity, if you will. Whatever it's called, it's been a lifelong problem. I think it stems from being raised pretty strictly by parents who taught me that a prime directive of life was not to get them upset. I generalized that to avoidance of upsetting anyone.

So, to this day, when I feel like I have displeased someone, it weighs on me mightily. Even when I did nothing "wrong," even when the upset person is an asshole, I suffer mentally at the thought of someone thinking ill of me. Even sending a dish back in a restaurant stresses me out to no end. I wish I could change.

I was thinking about this the other day in the context of displeasing others (or being judged by them) because of who I choose to be friends with. I know that happens. As I was thinking about and reading about that phenomenon, I came across this cartoon:

As the cartoon concludes, it is unhealthy and abusive to think you have the right to decide who your friends are friends with. Read that last sentence again, especially the underlined words. This is particularly so if you are not suffering any harm because of a friend's friendships.

Now what, you may ask, does any of that have to do with Jack Kerouac?

I'm not going to be explicit about that, but there is a connection. Suffice to say that I and I alone have the right to choose my friends, and if you are going to judge me or think ill of me for my choices in that regard . . . you are being unhealthy and abusive. And I hope that is not something you aspire to.

On reflection, I have to admit that I have in the past and still do fall into this very trap in regard to how I view others. It's hard not to judge people by the company they keep. But isn't the hard road often the right road? That's been my experience.

Thanks for tolerating my thoughts on this matter. I mainly wanted to share the above cartoon because I think it contains some really important wisdom, and it's especially relevant in our culture and politics today. Regardless of what you think of my own explanation, I hope you'll visit the link above and read it thoughtfully.

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