Things have been stressful for me lately, and I find myself snapping at people far more often than I would like. Even if I don't come out and say something rude to someone, I catch myself thinking snarky and rude thoughts about people a lot. It's disconcerting to me, and so I'm working very hard on preventing it. Treating an illness at its source is nearly always more effective than treating symptoms, however, so I've spent some time trying to figure out what exactly is bothering me so much lately. It seems a bit of a cop-out to blame my irritation on stress, so I've searched deeper. Today at church, however, a realization hit me: not everyone has the same values as I do.
This may seem self-evident to many of you reading in the tubes, but to me, it was a revelation.
I place a high value on friendship. More often than not, I am willing to go out of my way to do something for a friend, or even just to avoid inconveniencing them. In my mind, this is a common courtesy. I would expect my friends to do the same for me. Recently, however, I've been on the short end of this stick. I've watched as friends have, in my mind, left me out to dry, and I've been irritated about it. As it turns out, though, they simply don't place the same degree of value on friendship as I do. They value me as a friend, sure. That doesn't mean that they would go to the same lengths as I would to maintain the friendship.
Lest I equivocate, this isn't a bad thing. It's simply a different thing, and it's only now that I'm beginning to understand that those aren't synonyms.
Little things make a big difference to me, as tired and cliché as that sounds. Just today, Angry Block and his girlfriend were about to leave the apartment to head up to church. Clearly, I was headed to the same place, but they just up and left without asking if I wanted to come along. It's not a big deal, really. I'm quite sure I could have made it up to church on my own without becoming lost or injured. To me, however, it hurt that they wouldn't value my friendship enough to ask if I wanted to come along or to wait for me. It took some thinking and soul-searching to realize that they didn't mean that at all. If it were me, that's what I would have meant by that action, but, clearly, it wasn't me.
I have a hard time separating my thoughts and motivations from those of others around me. I tend to assume that everyone thinks the same way as I do, and it gets me into trouble sometimes. It's only when I take a moment to step back and try to understand how someone else is thinking and why they are acting the way that they are that I start to see the bigger picture.
Still, though, it's not easy.