When I was a young lad entering college I thought I knew everything. I can say I was wrong about ALOT of things then. But what I was mostly wrong about was how to be a person that people respected. I can’t place my finger on the time or date, but somewhere along the line, I understood that treating people like shit would gain respect. So I did a lot of it. I am reminded of a time when I was serving on Student Council and a fellow council member stated we were friends. I don’t know why it hit a cord with me but I imphatically denied our friendship. We were friendly. We enjoyed many great conversations, but because I had not taken the time to evaluate if I could trust him or not, I automatically assumed he was not worthy. What a foolish thought. That conversation haunts me today because I look around me and there are not many pure friends in my life. I often think of how he didn’t know much about me, but still wanted to be called my friend.
So justification…I had a criteria for friends. This stems back to when I was this guy looking for some friends I thought I had in high school only to be sorely mistaking. I vowed no one would ever treat me that way again. I felt I had to take control over people in my life because when I didn’t control it, I was crushed. In short, my response to him that visibly pissed him off (and inside I felt his pain, because I knew it well), was inexcusable. And my “Adult” quest to make people do right by me and respect me was moving in the wrong direction. I thought I was doing the right thing. And at the time, I gave no thought to how I made others feel, only to how I felt about things.
As I’m older now, I realize that people respect you because you do right by them, not because they fear you. At the time I was a stupid bull headed kid and if I could talk to me from then, I would say, “This isn’t going to work. And you care about people more than you are letting on”. Let’s just say my career milestones and successes have come because people know that I come from a place of love and not malice. It took a long time to turn that around.
So, on to this theme of forgiveness. Do I have anything to forgive myself for? Do I need to ask others to forgive me when I was a dumb kid trying to figure things out? As mature as I let on, I was so far behind my college mates (friends) who knew at least how to be polite to people and take cues that maybe what they said to someone hurt them. Should you ask for forgiveness or have anything to forgive yourself for when you thought you were justified in your actions? ABSOLUTELY you do. Life is about growing. And that growth means that no matter if your intentions were pure and actions poor, you affected someone negatively. Your growth says even if you meant it then, it wasn’t the right thing to do and you should attempt to make amends with those you hurt, and the number one person you hurt was YOURSELF. By alienating people, I lost out on a lifetime of good memories, drinks, shoulders to cry on, and support that was lacking many times in my life. I remember getting my own place and wanting to throw a housewarming, but couldn’t come up with a high enough number on a guest list to justify “throwing” something. See what I value most now, and what I totally took for granted then, were the moments you share with people. Those ties bind forever. I’m all about that now, and am less worried about someone hurting me because even if they do, I’m strong enough to recover, unlike 20 years ago. So forgiveness is necessary for YOURSELF. Understand that in order to grow, you have to make amends; with others and yourself too!