Tag Archives: friendship

Respecting yourself – don’t betray your own ideals for others

Respect is one of the very important ingredients you need to create the “cake” called happiness. However,do not make the mistake to think that it is other people who need to add THEIR respect to YOUR cake. You are the baker, you are responsible for what that cake looks like.

When I was younger (as in a kid and teenager) I often just adjusted my own needs to what other people wanted. I thought this way I would become more popular, more loved, more respected, and that people then would want to spend more time with me. I only achieved that I was “tolerated” (I now also know I was looking for the attention of the wrong people, but that is a story for another time, maybe). I also achieved that I was very unhappy with myself because I often put my own well-being, my own needs, my own values into a cupboard. I hid my passions, my true opinions, and in return did not really get along with myself very well. I was disrespecting myself – just because I wanted other people to like me. It took me a while to learn that this is not how it works.

How can you expect other people to respect you if you don’t respect yourself first?

I learned that you need to respect yourself first. After all, if other people feel that you don’t have any respect for yourself, why should they respect you in return? If you feel unhappy in your skin, if you don’t get along with yourself, if you don’t like yourself – why should others? What reason would they have to like the true you if you are hiding your true self behind high, solid fortress walls?

Don’t get me wrong: There will always be people who won’t like you. There will always be people who in general do not show much respect towards anybody. There will always be people with whom you won’t get along. But those are the people you should not waste your energy on. Don’t try to people please them by bending backwards and forwards to make them believe you agree with them. Don’t pretend you like something that you truly couldn’t care about less, or even have a real aversion against it.

Never betray your own ideals to make someone like you

I admit, in the past I was guilty of this. I thought something along the lines of “If I said something really witty, that person will surely like me.” or “If I tell them that I agree with that, then I will avoid an argument and they’ll accept me as part of their group.” I also spent more time in situations that I would simply walk away from these days. I would play down my own beliefs if my words caused some negativity in others. I would try to justify my ideas b playing them down. This was disrespectful towards myself, towards the things I like, and towards the people I loved (even though those people were “only” writers, actors or singers). Don’t do that. If people cannot accept what you believe and love, then they are not suitable for your life. You need to have enough respect for yourself to walk away from situations and people that make you feel uncomfortable and under pressure to turn into an actor or actress. In the long run, those people will only make you feel used and unloved. Having to hide behind a mask is never a good thing for your long-term happiness. And while people might not know that you are not being yourself, they will subconsciously feel that there is something not quite right – which will be a reason for them to respect you even less than they might already do.

Integrity and honesty are very important when you want to find the right kind of friends for yourself.

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Don’t try to be who you are not

Being not “good” enough

We all want to have friends, we all want to be accepted by others. Unfortunately, some people will not like who you truly are, and you know it. Sometimes we meet people we think we like, maybe because they look a certain way, maybe because they are part of a certain group, maybe because they have a certain position we admire, etc. But when we realize that who we are might not be enough for them to be interested in us, we often try to be someone else. What I learned through experience is this: If you aren’t “good” enough for them, then they are also most likely not good for you in the long run. They will drain your energy, they will always make you feel under pressure, and in the end, you won’t even like yourself any more.

Changing your character for others is not a good idea

You are who you are – and that is absolutely okay. Everyone changes over time, everyone develops new skills, new likes, new dislikes, and everyone becomes a little bit wiser when they get older. Some more, some less. I know how easy it is to feel like other people will not like you for who you are, and how easy it is to believe they will judge you negatively for your ideas and character traits. And I will not lie to you: there will be many people who won’t like you during your life. That is not a problem though: They most likely will not play an important role in your life unless you let them. The one person you will always have in your life is YOURSELF. That is the person you have to live with, and that is the person you need to love and get along with 24/7 – for the rest of your life. If you let other people change who you are, if you let them become an actor, then how happy will you be in your own skin? How much will you then still like yourself? You’ll have to live with the knowledge that you are betraying yourself – and the people who do not like you for who you are are simply not worth it. They might seem like they are great people in your eyes, but if you have to turn into an actor to be liked by them, then they are not good people to have in your life.

Nobody wants to be lonely – being alone though is a GOOD thing

It is okay to spend time on your own. It even is GOOD for you if you have time to spend on your own. Use that time to read, to play, to be creative, to do something you really enjoy doing. Meditate, improve your skills, relax – just do something that has a positive effect on your life. You don’t need others to improve yourself and your life – and I learned that people respect you a lot more when they know that you don’t need others all the time, and that you also work towards certain goals on your own. Having a goal, working towards it, and reaching it on your own is also a great confidence booster. I’ll write something about setting goals the right way (so you can reach them, too, and continue being motivated) in a while, too.

The right people might not turn up as quickly as you would like them to

I will not lie to you about this: it is very possible that it takes a while for the right kind of friend to turn up in your life. You might meet them when you join groups that share your interest, or you might meet them out of the blue when you are in a book store, paying for the newest release of your favourite author. Of course, when a person that shares some of your passions turns up, you will get excited, and you hope that you can spend more time with them. But then again: do not make the mistake of becoming a people pleaser. If you find they have a different opinion about something than you, don’t just change your own opinion and agree with them. State your point of view (in a friendly manner though), and see where the discussion goes. The right people will accept that people have different opinions, and discussions can be very fruitful experiences if it all stays respectful.

The fear of rejection

I know the fear of rejection very well. Please, don’t believe that I just go through life with a “I don’t give a **** what people think”. I do care, and recently I have met a few people that I think are fantastic. Every time I say something to them that might be controversial, and that might not be a popular opinion, I am worried about them turning away (because I do not know them well enough yet). Two of those people I just liked immediately, and I decided to trust my first impression this time (though one of them I almost did not talk to). The time when I revealed something very important to me, came soon enough (with both people it was during the second meeting). I was worried I’d be branded as odd, as someone they would not want to see again. But when BOTH of them said they share the same attitude, I felt incredibly relieved. I know this fear every single time I talk to someone about something that is very important to me (unless it’s a person I don’t care about much) – but I have also learned that it is better to face that fear than to just hide yourself behind a mask and be unhappy about not being able to tell the truth. I have learned it is a lot better to be with people who accept your truths than people who like you for your lies.

Confidence comes in different forms

I am not perfect, and I know it. I still have a long way to go when it comes to dealing with other people. People who know me personally often think that I am a very confident person. After all, I have no problems with speaking in public, with being a leader of a group, and even holding presentations in front of “important” people is not a problem for me. I used to teach for one semester as part of my teacher training, and I enjoyed it. Nobody would ever have suspected I was a, introverted person with a mild case of social anxiety. But those kind of situations were different: I was talking about things other than myself. I was talking about topics I knew a lot about, and about topics I was passionate about. It was not about making friends. I am great with speeches, I am good with words. I can be quite entertaining, even inspiring, I’ve been told.

This all changes when it’s about personal interactions. I still have a long way to go there – but I know that I need to be myself. Because only if you let people see who you are, only then will you be able to find someone who will want to support you with your real goals, with your dreams – all the other people will just support your fake mask, and will turn their back on your as soon as they realize your true self is someone completely different. Spare yourself this pain, and be open to finding the right people. They might be just as relieved as you are when they find someone who shares their ideals and ideas. It is a very nice thing to tell someone something important about yourself, and then hear the words: “Yes, I think so, too.”

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My connection to animals

One thing people usually learn about me quite early is that they should never underestimate my love for animals (especially birds). Though I have learned to keep my enthusiasm in check most of the time, and usually only show my true love for animals when I am around people I feel comfortable with. I’m the kind of person you’ll find in the kids’ zone in a zoo, petting a goat, and being happy like a child (note: I usually prefer other settings than zoos though – and some zoos deserve to be shut down, but that’s a topic for a different blog). I’m the kind of person who goes out of her way to help animals in need, and also the kind of person who often prefers the company of animals to the company of people. Let me explain why that is so.

My lovely rooster Frodo, who died a few weeks ago in New Zealand. And I am in England. I wish I could have been there for him during his last days.

My lovely rooster Frodo, who died a few weeks ago in New Zealand. And I am in England. I wish I could have been there for him during his last days.

Animals make good friends and good companions. I know there are people out there who believe animals have no souls, no feelings, no intelligence – but I definitely do believe that animals are intelligent, and do have feelings. Though I have my doubts about cats sometimes….

Of course, communicating with animals is not as easy as talking to people who speak the same language. But when you look at human communications, you need to ask yourself: Is it really that easy, and that straight forward? To me, it is not. I often leave words unspoken, avoid certain topics, and often wish that people would be easier to deal with. When it comes to people, I often worry that my words will be misunderstood, too much or too little read into them. And when you are friendly to someone, they often suspect that you are being friendly because you have a hidden agenda, or would like to get something from them. But to me, when I thank someone, when I tell someone something positive, I usually just do so because I honestly mean it. There are people out there to whom I would like to say so much more, but I don’t – because these days it is so easy to be misunderstood. And once you have to start explaining, even defending, why you say something nice, the words lose their value a little, don’t they? I have made horrible experiences with people after saying something honest and nice (and no, not talking about declarations of love here!), but I’ve never had such an experience after saying something nice to an animal.

You can be nice to animals, you can tell them you care – and they will not take it the wrong way. You can show your love to them, and they will not hate you for it. Of course, animals can be quite “rude”, and not care much about what you feel or say – but at least you know that a rooster, for example, might be a snob one day, but the loveliest darling the other day. This was the case with my dear Frodo. Most of the time, I could just pick him up, or sit next to him, and he would hang around. He was a good chap. But he also had some days where he just gave me a dirty look and walked away. He died a few weeks ago, and I’m quite sad about it, he was a good friend, a very fine rooster.

Other animals (dogs, cats, even goats!) also have that one great advantage that you can hang out with them without having to be someone you’re not. You don’t need to impress them. They either like you or they don’t. Simple as that. Fortunately, animals usually tend to like me (especially goats for some reason, they are such cuddly, lovely animals!). I like the company of animals. You can sit down on a couch, or next to a tree, and the animals will either join you or they won’t. If they join you, they simply are with you, no hidden motivations (well, unless it’s a cat).

That look says it all....

That look says it all….

I know there are plenty of people out there who get along with other people well enough – and maybe I’m just not a very likeable person, who knows. To me it is simply a truth that I usually get along better with animals than with people. They don’t care about where you were born, what colour your skin is, what kind of accent you speak, what your qualifications are, how much money you earn, what you wear, or what your religion is. Don’t get me wrong: animals can be quite judgemental, but at least they are not judgemental in the same way as people.

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Don’t envy me

People often tell me that they wish they could live like I do. But fact is that they do not really know much about my life at all – otherwise they would not wish to be in my situation. Yes, I did have two good days in the last few weeks – I attended something many people would have loved to see (the red carpet event for the Hobbit world premiere – mind, just standing behind the barriers, it was a free event!), but this does not mean that I have a great life. It does not mean that I am richer than the people I talk to. If I was, I would not struggle so much. Yet, what people want to see and what the reality is are usually two different stories.

The people who say they “envy” me are actually the people who should be grateful for what they have: a home, a family, friends they can talk to, some security in life. All of this is basically missing from my life since I have been “kicked out” of New Zealand, the place that was my home for so many years.

I am writing these lines in a hostel, in a four bed dorm (for females only). I was lucky, and for the last three days I did not have to share the room – which is a plus. Yet, I was not even supposed to be here. I had booked a single room in a flat in a quiet part of London MONTHS in advance. But a few days ago, I stood in front of that place, at 8pm in the evening when I was supposed to check in – and nobody opened the door. One hour later, there still was nobody home, and I could not get in touch with the owner. So, in the dark, in London, I had to find an alternative. For one night, I could return to the place I stayed in before, another night I had to spend in an expensive hotel, and a few days ago I found a reasonably cheap hostel that only hosts up to 18 people (small for London). In a few days, I will have to move again – and do not yet know where to. It is not easy to find a single room for an affordable price with such short notice (and it’s not even my fault that I am in this situation – everything had been booked, planned, and paid for).

By the end of the month, I will have to be in Winchester where I will house- and cat-sit for six weeks. This will be a nice break from moving around – but I will also have to work hard on my freelance writing because the stress in London has cost me quite a bit of money, too.

So, do not envy me because of my “freedom”.

Another thing is that people should realise what a lonely life this is. When I feel like talking to someone, there is nobody to talk to. I can’t just call a friend and say “Hey, do you have some time for me?” Yes, I do meet people, but usually it is a matter of “out of their sight, out of their mind”. They see me as something temporary in their life, not really worth their time. It is not easy. I guess the fact that I have never been a popular person comes in handy now. I can deal with loneliness better than most people – but that does not mean that I often wish things would be different.

But when will it be different? I don’t know. I am not even sure yet what I will do after the house-sitting. I tried to find out whether I could go back to Scotland, but have not received a reply yet. So maybe I will stay in England. All I want is to find a place I could call home, even if it was just for a year, or even just half a year.

One thing people will never be able to understand is how heartbroken I am about not being “home” any more. I had to leave my beloved animals behind, and my dear rooster Frodo died while I was in Scotland. I should have been there for him – but I could not. My friend did all he could for him – but it should have been me, being there for him during the last days of his life. 

So, don’t envy me. You don’t want to live my life. And don’t be jealous about the one or the other good thing that happens to me, because the good things come with a high price.

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Filed under When there is nobody to talk to

A focussed mind

For you to reply to (I would love some of your opinions):

When it comes to achieving goals (and goals are dreams with a deadline), then it is very important that you are able to keep your mind on track, i.e. you need to stay focussed. You don’t necessarily have to get to your goal in a straight line, but you always need to keep your eyes on it.

Motivational speakers, personal development authors and other people who already are quite successful always tell you that there is nothing that you cannot achieve, nothing that is out of reach, once you put your mind and your heart on it. What do you think: Is this really true?

And if it is, how do you keep focussed? 

 

My personal attitude, and a problem:

Call it coincidence, call it synchronicity: For one of my writing jobs I had to read a book called “The Slight Edge”. It is a book about how you can achieve your goals, i.e. make your dreams come true by simply doing little steps at a time – steps that might be so little that they might seem insignificant to you. I worked my way through the book, and found it raised some very interesting points.

And this was also the time during which a very interesting person came into my life. I met him a couple of weeks ago, and hoped that he would come back here for another stay. Fortunately, he did indeed return for a few days (for a project). Even though I did not want to be interested in people at my current stage in life (because I move around so much that nobody could seriously be interested in building any sort of friendship with me), I could not help but be completely enthralled by the person’s whole being. One part of myself says “Stay focussed, don’t even dare to think about things like friendship,” while the other little voice inside me wishes for nothing more but staying in touch with that one person – for what reason in particular, I do honestly not know. He is the kind of person that simply makes my soul expand with gladness. The mere fact that someone like him does indeed exist on the planet is astonishing.

So I get a bit distracted – but as the situation is, it is not very easy to actually talk to him without appearing like an idiot. I can also hardly walk up to him, and ask him whether there would be a chance that we could stay in touch. It might come across the wrong way, or the right way, I don’t know. I’m horrible when it comes to dealing with people.

And this is one of the topics that is also covered in “The Slight Edge”, to take little steps towards what your heart really desires – but what little step is there to take?

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