Sometimes we come across a person in our lives and we see potential for greatness in them. In my case this individual is much younger than me, but we still connected and a friendship grew. This girl is young, pretty, smart and had a bit of chip on her shoulder about life; but as I learned about her background I fully understood and even came to love that ever presiding chip on her shoulder. We would talk about life and the people we had to deal with at work and come to laugh about it later. I felt that even though there was a big age difference, she was mature beyond her years. I felt, because of her hardships in life, she had been one of those young people who overcame it and was better and stronger than the average person her age. As time went by I realized my first impression of her was a little off and I had missed some key issues within her personality that would come to affect me and our friendship later.
When we are attracted to a person, either in a romantic relationship or in a friendship, usually we are attracted to a couple of things in their personality. The first set of qualities are those that remind us of ourselves. The second set of qualities are those we may admire about the individual and want more for ourselves. However, this attraction can become twisted, because often what we want to see in others is really more of a reflection of ourselves and not always who the other person really is, and this is called projection. I realized I had painted this nice picture of a young woman who was like a younger version of myself, with a bit more edginess from her troubled past. I thought she had something that I value in others when I see it….grit. Now, I have come to realize the tough girl image I first encountered is just a facade and she is really one of the most sensitive people I have ever met. This is where things get complicated for me.
I do not do well with overly sensitive people and it is even worse when people do not realize they are being overly sensitive. I am very focused, honest and straight forward about my thoughts and feelings. I do not water things down to make it easier for people to swallow. When I catch inconsistency within a person I can only stay quiet for so long before I finally just tell it like it is. In a working environment I am very methodical and focused. As I have gotten older I realize that I may come off very matter-of-fact when in my “work mode” but most people understand I am there to get a job done and don’t take it personal. Individuals who really take the time to know me also know I never set out to hurt anyone and usually once the job is complete and the work day is over I am back to my fun-loving self. That is why this particular friendship baffles me.
In all my 40 years on this planet I have never had a person tell me I am hateful, bitchy, or mean. I have never had someone point out a laundry list of times I have hurt their feelings. So when this particular friend explained her feelings about me I admit I was a bit taken back. Of course my first reaction was to explain some of the situations and why I may have reacted the way I did, but defensive and apologetic came off more like I was agreeing with her assessment of who I am, and I did not agree with her. I had to process her viewpoint fully and realized that not only had I projected some things on her in the beginning, but maybe she was also projecting on me. However, my projection was one of more positive and hers was very negative.
I know I am not a negative person and I know that I do not say or do things to intentionally cause another person to feel bad, that is not my heart. My entire education and goals in life is to help others be the best they can be. I have real conversations that only a super sensitive person looking to be the victim would twist into something ugly or hateful. If I feel like I am walking on eggshells around an individual with every conversation or meeting, then I really don’t want to be around them anymore. Furthermore why would someone want to continue to be friends with a person who they feel is hateful and bitchy to them? It made no sense to me why she would continue to reach out and want to get together, but at the same time continue to twist everything I say into something negative. The simplest question-answer text conversations could turn into comments from her being dismissive, rude, and….well….hateful and bitchy…and that is when I realized it. Okay, how she feels about me is really saying more about her than it does about me. I chose to project things on to her that were positive and strong qualities because that was my first impression of her, and even though I was very spot on in some aspects, I see now that she is still very immature and sensitive in other ways.
Sometimes, we have to love people from a distance and create boundaries for our own sake. I cannot afford to have such negativity in my life right now and even though I do care for her, I do not think I can continue to be around her on a regular basis. Pay attention to how other people will label you because it can teach you about who they really are. People have a choice in their words and how they choose to perceive the world around them. Are you consistently choosing the worst? Do you find yourself judging others harshly? When a person addresses a problem in the relationship do you make excuses, get defensive and retaliate with a laundry list of things they have done in return? Do not let yourself get sucked in to the negativity, do not be the person who always chooses the negative and remember…
I am not what you think I am. YOU are what you think I am.
The world around us is a reflection of who we are. If you don’t like the world you are in then the real change starts with you.
With peace, love and honesty,