I met my friend for brunch not so long ago and we were catching up. I asked how a former colleague of mine was doing. The mentioned colleague and I had a strained relationship. The strain was so heavy on me. I wanted to be alright and not cringe when I heard her name or thought of her. Going back to our conversation. I shall call my former colleague Grace (See, what I did there? I gave her a name that is noble, I see it as sign of growth and healing since I am no longer thinking of profanities when her name comes up in my mind). So I asked “How is Grace doing?” She responded by saying that Grace is doing very well. She is gelling with her boss, they are working well together. I can’t remember now how I responded to the feedback. I am now in a different emotional state than I was that day. I can safely assume that I was not happy with the answer.
Two days later, my friend and I were having another deep conversation this time. I was vulnerable in the conversation and shared some personal things with her. Then she said to me “You know, I was not sure whether to tell you the truth or not that day when you asked about Grace. But I decided to be honest about it anyway”. I thanked her for being honest because her answer (and actually other inklings already within me) made me dig deeper within myself to find out what is wrong, later at home. I asked myself if it was because I didn’t like her. Did she make my job difficult? Was she such a horrible person? Was I jealous of her? Did I do something to her hence she was acting funny towards me? I learnt that when I asked myself questions about her such as “is it because she is young?” or “is it because she is selfish?” those questions didn’t really make me feel better or even worse. There was no enlightenment there. I quickly realised that it was about me and not her. So I started focusing on myself, I realised that it was all about me, since the world really does revolve around me… The more I asked myself questions such as “am I jealous?” “why doesn’t she like me?” “but I am more qualified than her!” “But I protected her!” the more I felt like I was making progress. Those questions and statements riled me up, they made me uncomfortable but I have learnt that most answers are found there in discomfort if you are brave enough to soldier on. After more digging and discomfort, I came to a realisation that, I didn’t like her because she had not reciprocated my love towards her. It all boiled down to love (as they say love is everything, right). I realised that I was angry because when she joined the company, I did everything I could to make it easy for her. Also, my goal was to have a close and healthy working relationship with her.
My attempt at making things work for us, means that I was not as honest enough when I should have been (for example that time she sent me a report, it was average and pathetic yet I said it is ok because I wanted us to work well together (face slap)); I was not demanding enough when I should have been. I unconsciously lowered my expectations and standards in order to accommodate her. From my perspective, she never rose to the occasion and I became frustrated by her average performance (since I was not honest enough to tell her). I became resentful and frustrated. Then I started creating stories and our relationship became strained. I realised that all I wanted all along was for Grace to impress me the same way that I did. I wanted her to give me excellent reports. I wanted her ‘to want to have a healthy and working relationship with me’. I wanted her to choose me. I wanted her to value me. I wanted her to admire me. Dare I say, I wanted her to love me (I know wanting to be loved in corporate is like blasphemy but it is what is or was;-) Phew!!!! I got to the bottom of the issue. Hallelujah!!! I felt light and good about myself the minute the realisation hit me. So the problem was self-love. I didn’t love myself enough back then, I didn’t value myself enough back then, I didn’t choose myself. Now, I forgive myself for making things difficult for myself and perhaps Grace too. I let go of the resentment towards her. I am choosing myself. I value myself. I am admiring myself. I am putting myself first. I am loving me.
That reader is honesty. It is growth inducing. Why then are we so terrified of it? You can’t grow when you are in denial or when people always tell you what you want to hear. Imagine if my friend had skated around my question and told me that Grace is not ok. I would have been happy in my bitterness and delayed the process of self-love, growth and healing. I thanked my friend for being brave enough to tell me what I didn’t want to hear. This also strengthened and encouraged her, she can live her truth without being apologetic. She can be herself without having to hide behind lies and insecurities. Moreover, our friendship is also strengthened because we both know that we can be honest with each other.