I was going through some of my old correspondence yesterday, when I stumbled upon this gem:
“Too many people have taken advantage of you and screwed you over that now you look at everyone through that lens. You fail to see the goodness in people and you have no patience for friendships anymore.”
This is what one of my best friends told me (in fact he sent an e-mail) sometime back. I had asked him to get me something which I was not able to procure because of my limited mobility. It didn’t involve a lot of money, but required some effort like collecting and collating material from the library, xeroxing it, and sending it to me.
He didn’t want to do that and started giving excuses and kept on asking clarifications. One day he told me that he had misplaced the information I sent and asked me to send them again. Even after doing so, nothing happened and my requirement for that material was over as the deadline by which I had to submit my work had passed. So I wrote a mail giving him a piece of my mind and this was the response that I received—at least the best part of it.
I was very depressed reading the mail and couldn’t get those remarks off my mind for a couple of weeks. Yes, a few people have taken advantage of me, but that never stopped me from helping others. And I never helped somebody expecting something in return. So, the allegation was untrue and the person who wrote it was one of the few people who really knew that. I still don’t know why he wrote that and how he could write that.
About friendships, I only have a few friends. That is mainly because my interaction with people is very less these days and most of the ‘friends’ had walked away from me after the accident. But I have a few nice friends, a few of whom I have not even met. I think in the case of friendships it is quality, not quantity, that matters.
But in the above the case, the reason for the trouble was lack of respect. What my experience had taught me is that for a friendship to flourish, the people involved should respect each other. For example, whenever he asked me for help, I would do the best possible job and always considered his requests as top priority. Naturally, I expected the same from him—respect me like I respected him. The trouble started when the respect was not reciprocated. Saying ‘I forgot to do that’ or ‘I misplaced the details’ shows the importance that is given to the request and to the person who made that request. It is worse than saying ‘I am very busy’ or ‘Sorry, I can’t do it.’
Cicero once told “Remove respect from friendship, and you have taken away the most splendid ornament it possesses.”
So one of the main ingredients of a good friendship (in fact in any relationship) is mutual respect. Without that, things won’t work out in the long run.
So, respect your friends, cherish and nurture your friendships.
I wish you all a very happy Valentine’s day!