Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. The air cools down, we break out our sweaters and all things pumpkin, the leaves start their spectacular color show – it’s really the best. i actually want to get married in the fall some day. Penn Yan and Keuka Lake are stunning this time of year. It also means new beginnings for me and for anyone else whose life follows a scholastic calendar, as mine has for 20 some odd years. Lately, I’ve also noticed these winds of change among the relationships of my friends (and myself). It’s as if everyone is starting to collectively wake up and say, “Enough is enough.”.
I think this conversation is especially pertinent for women. Being the “fairer sex” and still living under the thumb of outdated standards (don’t tell me we don’t) present interesting challenges for us in ways that men don’t have to deal with. Not to mention that, fact is, we’re just different creatures and operate differently. Stuff You Should Know did a really awesome podcast about the neurological differences between men’s and women’s brains – and there are differences. It’s fascinating, you should take a listen. The point being, we don’t react to situations the same, nor do we handle our lives the same way. Speaking from my generational POV, boys were not taught that they have to be nice to everyone. Girls were. We’ve grown up to be women that are good, kind citizens, but sometimes struggle with the limit. How far is too far? When do we say “Stop. Enough is enough”? Is it when that friend cancels plans with you for the 10th time? Or when a stranger is unnecessarily rude to you? I know I preach kindness above all and giving others the benefit of the doubt (and believe in that), but you don’t have to be a doormat. It’s ok to say, “That’s not acceptable.”. The bottom line is, only you can direct your life, and ultimately, your happiness. And if having that person in your life, or feeling like you’re trampled on brings negativity to your world, change it. Remove yourself from the situation, change your reaction, or you will continue to experience the same feelings of frustration and doormattiness (Even when talking about serious issues, I still make up words)
A great barometer to measure all of this is a wonderful thing my uncle taught me, called the Bank Account Test. It’s hard to be impartial when assessing your relationships, so by putting everything in non-emotional terms like a bank account, it can illustrate what’s really happening. Think of a joint checking account. There are two people that have access to deposit and withdraw as needed. Like in a real bank account, the goal is to deposit as much as you both can so this pile of money (love/respect/trust) grows and grows. It grows so big that when somebody makes a withdrawl, it’s not very noticeable. That’s optimal scenario #1. Now, if you both are only depositing a little bit and the pile isn’t that large, a withdrawl will be much more noticeable and harder to manage the account with such a small pile. Additionally, that assumes that both are making deposits. If only one person is making deposits and the other person is doing all the withdrawing, all you’re left with at the end of each day is an empty bank account. If you find yourself in that situation, that’s when it’s time to make some changes.
Now, before you go out in the world and start telling your boss/irritating coworker/ex-partner/sister/goldfish exactly what you think of them, hold up. All of what I’ve just said comes with a caveat. This is NOT a free-reign excuse to be rude or mean, or to just start living with no filter. The world does not need to hear every thought and opinion you have. Honesty is the best policy, sure, but tact and mindfulness are equally important. Assess the situation thoroughly so you are able to handle it properly. I see no harm in letting others know how you feel, as long as it’s said with kindness, empathy and sincerity, never with spite or malice. Appropriate time and place play a big part too. If someone’s already hurting and going through a rough time, now is not the time to rub salt on the wound. That’s tact and mindfulness. And if that friend invites you out for the 11th time, you do have the option of declining. That’s removing yourself from the situation. Now, you don’t have to send them a long text telling them what a shitty friend you think they are. (I’ve done it, it does nobody any good, believe me. It’s just hurtful and unnecessary) I’m pretty sure after 10 cancellations, they know they’re not winning first prize at the Friend Fair.
There are very few hard and fast rules I live by. Be kind. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Know your worth. Be the best human I can be today. DON’T be a doormat. It might sound contradictory, and it is a little. Only you will know when enough is enough. If these things that might bother others don’t bother you, by all means, keep doing what you’re doing! (and tell me what you’re doing so I can learn too :)) But if not, well…maybe it’s time for something to change. And since you can’t change your circumstances or the other person, the only thing you can really change is yourself; constant metamorphosis. And that, my friends, is the beauty of living.