Has it ever crossed your mind that you’re being too nice, or good giving, and instead of feeling good about yourself you end up feeling used? I have been through that conflict a number of times.
I feel that my struggles throughout life and my disability have made me a down-to-earth person that feels sympathy towards others and that literally takes to heart the quote of “treat others the way you would like to be treated.” But of course, it doesn’t always go as expected. I do favors for strangers without expecting anything in return. I do favors for people that I know when asked because I WANT to do it for them, and also because I want to feed our friendship. Doing nice things for strangers is much easier and rewarding than doing it for people I know.
In highschool I learned that friendships are like a bank, you can’t always make withdrawals and no deposits, because you’re just going to run out of money in the bank, and that’s when friendships usually end. Meaning, one should not always ask and take from the other, without once in a while making a “deposit” (doing something for them even when not asked to, or giving something). This way, one does not feel “used” or like he/she is putting more into the friendship than the other. I’m sure everyone’s had that “friend” that is always asking and asking for things, but is never there when you need them.
When I do an act of kindness for a stranger, that’s usually the last time I’ll see that person, and the last memory I’ll have of them is either them thanking me, or just the feeling of knowing I did something nice for someone even if they don’t know who it was from. Much different than when it’s towards someone I will keep seeing or someone that I just have contact with eventually, whether it’s just an acquaintance, a friend, or a very close friend (or even a family member can fit into this category). When doing a favor for someone I know (when asked to), I don’t do it with a hidden agenda, it’s usually a “sure why not” thing, and also knowing it’s a way to feed a friendship so it does not die off. I know when a friend does a favor for me, I feel grateful and I feel like our friendship is stronger because I can now count on them, and eventually I return a favor to keep the ball rolling. On several occasions, however, my friendship with someone dies off after I do them a favor, and that really gets me thinking on a lot of things, but they’re not good things. After encountering that a few times, I felt like I had two choices; I can either become a colder person that doesn’t give out favors often in fear of just being used, or to remain myself and not let the “bad apples” get me down. I mean, maybe they have a reason? But not knowing that reason doesn’t make me feel better. Maybe I’m just too sensitive? That could be it.
I like to draw, do graphic design, and photography, so since they’re things that I love, sometimes I don’t mind doing it as a favor to someone. Recently I created a logo for someone starting up their business. I wasn’t asking for anything in exchange, only for them to give me credit (when asked who made it). Well the person seemed really excited when presented with the final result and said they would link my website to their website and mention my name. That was more than I asked for but I was grateful because it was something I spent a lot of time on. I thought this would be a simple logo, since I was doing it for free I really wasn’t planning to spend weeks doing it. But it was eventually a 2 week process, I created several different examples to choose from, spent many hours refining and adjusting the chosen one, etc. I’m not complaining about that, but it just didn’t make me feel good in the end when I went through all that and didn’t get credit. My name/businessname was not listed anywhere on the website like mentioned, nonetheless my website or e-mail. I don’t make a big deal out of it, that didn’t ruin my day, and I didn’t bother to contact the person about it, but it was on my mind for a while, just wondering if I’m crazy for thinking I deserved to get mentioned credit for it, it was a favor after all.
Having to go through many things related to my disability, and even seeing this disease slowly take away the lives of my two brothers, really makes me want to be kind to everyone because one can never truly know what battles the other person has in their lives. As a child, I was never really accepted by the other kids, I didn’t have many friends, and me being quiet and unsocial made it difficult to even make friends, so it really makes me cherish the friendships that I do acquire. Now, I’m not a clingy type of friend that wants to hold on to every person wanting everyone to be my friend, haha. I just actually value each friendship, and I make it a point to keep my friendships positive. I used to have trouble accepting the fact that some people just didn’t like me, maybe because I was used to being rejected a lot when I was little, and being an “outcast”, and that’s when I would do be nice to people and do favors even when they weren’t so grateful back and still didn’t like me in the end. As I grew older I just stopped caring about that, who liked me or not, and I just treated everyone with the same respect, except no more going out of my way to do something nice for someone that wasn’t nice to me.
Now, I try to remain ignorant to the fact that there are people in this world that take advantage of other’s kindness, because I don’t want that to change the way I am. I am smarted about it though, so if someone wasn’t even thankful for a favor I did that they asked me for, I’m way less likely to ever do a favor for them again. And my grateful I mean, don’t try to be my friend just to get a favor and then “see ya, sucker”.
On the other hand, I have a great friend who i’ve maintained a friendship for about 13 years or more, and it has consisted of just constantly doing favors for each other back and forth in addition to normal friend stuff. Sometimes I buy her lunch, and next time we hang out she buys me a drink or lunch or something, she asks for a favor with something, and a few days, weeks, or months later I ask for one, and in the end it always seems to just be so balanced out. Over these 13 years one has not done more for the other, it’s pretty much equal. That’s how I wish I could be with other people. I don’t mean always doing favors for each other, but if one asks the other for one, they should not cut off the friendship just because they already got what they wanted, they shouldn’t have been friends with that person in the first place. I lose and gain friendships all the time, it doesn’t really bother me, but what bothers me is when I feel used. To me, the meaning of feeling used is when person B asks person A to do something for them, person A does so, and then person B decides to not be there for person A anymore.
Do you at times find yourself feeling like this? Do you think your disability has made you kinder and more understanding toward others? Feel free to answer down below in the comments!