Earlier this week, I was having a conversation with a friend about why she’s been MIA lately. I knew she was busier than normal at work since starting a new job. But there had been several occasions where we could have saw each other and didn’t. One of those circumstances happened to be a football game in which I’d invited a bunch of friends.
When I asked why she hadn’t shown up or called, she simply said, “You know I’m an introvert. I don’t really like the large crowds thing”. As someone who’s been an introvert his entire life, I took offense. Rather than offer up a legitimate explanation, she tried to excuse it with a stereotype.
In the past couple of years, there’s been an influx of articles talking about introverts—how we should deal with them, how we can support them, why they’re so sensitive, etc. Although, what I’ve noticed in real life is that some people aren’t really introverts. They’re selfish, narcissistic individuals who hide behind this façade in order to gain our empathy.
Being socially awkward isn’t a reason to be emotionally-stunted or generally inconsiderate.
In order to better choose your circle and to improve the quality of your relationships going into the new year, here are 5 behaviors that you should stop accepting:
1) Avoiding conflict resolution: In my scenario, perhaps my friend thought I’d be mad if she didn’t come because of how important the game was to me. Or maybe she didn’t want to be around all of our friends at once. Instead of being honest, she ignored the real issue altogether. Emotionally strong people pick their battles. They also have the rationale to sit down and address conflict without being confrontational. Don’t accept the presence of those who choose to defer to silence or ambivalence.
2) Not respecting someone’s time: So many articles and viral tweets this year praised the idea that introverts love canceled plans or they often will cancel plans at the last minute because they need alone time. Everyone needs alone time. I love being by myself at least one full day every week. That doesn’t make you an introvert, it just makes you a jerk. Something as minute as this will turn into them being unreliable on bigger things down the line.
3) Inability to admit wrongness: It took me awhile, but on this side of 30, I’ve decided I’d rather be happy than right. I used to hate to apologize. But now I try hard to squash disagreements so that bad vibes don’t fester. It’s hard to be vulnerable and share parts of yourself when you fear being judged. Taking it a step further, dealing with a person who can’t admit when they’re wrong creates a wall that cultivates distrust. If you can’t have faith that someone you care about will readily admit when they’re wrong but also not keep records of yours, you’re in sinking sand.
4) Inability to let go of the past: “Remember when…” “Yeah, but you did…” Those are just a few key phrases that reveal the true nature of where a relationship is. When you decide to forgive someone, the expectation is that you’ve decided to move forward. But it’s impossible to move forward if you hold on to a person’s mistakes as if they’re Draw 4 cards. Some people tolerate this because they feel as if they’ve earned it. As someone who broke free of that, I can say that no one deserves to live their life in a time loop.
5) Not knowing when to quit: This year was a pruning season in my life. What I mean by that is if something or someone wasn’t helping me grow or making me happy, I cut it out of my life. Here’s the thing – if you don’t learn a lesson, the universe (or God, if you’re a person of faith) will force you to go through the same hardships over and over until you do. Until you know the value in letting go of what’s holding you back or causing you pain from the inside out, you’ll be a prisoner in relationships with people who deep down don’t care about your best interests.
Coming to the end of a year always signifies a death in so many words. You’re trying to end bad habits while figuring out how to start new ones. The main area that we often take inventory on is our relationships with people. Analyze the relationships around you and decide what’s the ROI on them. If there’s no balance or if you can clearly see that you aren’t better for having that person in your life, then make this year the last time you settle.
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