For those of you who know me personally, as a friend, or casual acquaintance, you just won’t believe that in my younger years I was irreverent, impatient, driven, intolerant, blunt, hot-tempered, stubborn, cold, and sacrilegious. Or perhaps reading that you have rolled your eyes at that entire confession. Some might say what’s changed?
Well I am here to tell you, I’ve changed. This is the softer, kinder me. Can you imagine?
I had some good qualities that almost balanced the arrogance of youth, but not quite. I was loyal beyond expectations, honest, loving to those I trusted, and romantic. I’ve tried to hang on to those qualities even though it is sometimes difficult. Loyalty has gotten me in trouble more times than I would like to admit. Standing fast beside someone only to later learn that they were wrong put me in sticky situations more than once.
While I was never unkind, if I thought that someone should know better, no matter what the issue, those not so nice traits (see first paragraph) would quickly surface. Usually one at a time, but once in a while a tsunami of feelings would wash over me. My fury would unleash. The cause of the tidal wave, almost always, was my feelings being hurt. I was betrayed by someone I trusted and cared about. That kind of hurt burrows deep. It took me a long time to get over the betrayal of a friend, and forgiveness was not in the game. Now I make an attempt to forgive, but sadly I never forget. How much better for me if I could develop a mild amnesia regarding slights.
I assumed everyone held loyalty and honesty in high regard, another fault of youth. We create standards and expect others to live up to them. People were my friend until they showed themselves not to be my friend. I had a friend criteria. I imagine everyone does whether it is consciously or not.
There were times, when I was a teen, that my Best Friend Forever, Susan, and I would ease the hurt we bestowed on each other by a good soul cleansing, hair pulling, knock down, fist fight. We would make up the next day, all forgiven. Oh if it could only be that easy now! I doubt I could take or deliver a good punch anymore, but you better believe I would try if provoked.
Today, I am friendly with most, although true friendship must be earned, on both sides. When friendship is found it’s a wonderful thing, especially in these latter years. Expectations are more realistic and confidences are saved for the very few. For others, I play it pretty close to the vest, a strategy which protects from those loosed lipped acquaintances.
The age of my friends span at least fifty years, most south of my own age. Growing up helped me realize that you can learn from any person, no matter their length of time on this earth. It also taught me that sharing my own experiences, at times, can smooth the path for someone else.
So I am here to tell you that growing up is not so bad. Except for those few flash backs to my youth, I don’t grit my teeth as much. Life is sweeter.