I’m not sure how the subject came up, but my boss began talking about Abraham Lincoln last week. He referenced a memorable book, and had it on my desk by the end of the day. I’ve enjoyed reading the short chapters in Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips, particularly because the character that Lincoln models is so rarely seen in today’s generation. Abraham Lincoln was kind, inviting, patient and wise. He did not allow his actions to be guided by animosity, vengence, or spite (yes, even through the Civil War).
He garnered support and respect by raising up those around him, offering compliments and considering the perspective of others when making decisions.
I highlighted several passages, most of which spoke to the power of an amiable personality and genuine compassion.
Not only do I want to be more like Abraham Lincoln’s character; I want to surround myself with people who value the same character. I want friends who are kind and inviting and raise up others. Relationships that grow from patience and understanding. People who don’t need attention for validation and self-worth. I respect those who have developed a strong sense of gratitude and who prioritize relationships over superficial habits.
I want to have friends who express genuine gratitude. My parents have enstilled in me the habit of noticing the generosity of others. Consequently I can appreciate an extra-friendly cashier, a kid with manners, a sweet message, a sincere compliment. And when someone remembers a small detail I mentioned? IT MAKES MY DAY. It seems like many fellow millenials feel entitled to the kindness and generosity of others. Sometimes its hard for me to understand how a friend can expect attention and understanding….and offer none in return. I can’t help but feel sorry for a generation who has replaced gratitude with entitlement.
I’ve learned that the sooner we come to terms with the following, the better off we are: “We cannot change people and their habits; we can accept them.” I’m learning to accept them. In our busy world, it takes actual work to sustain a relationship beyond social media. I’m willing to put in the work if they are too. There are cases, however, when it’s a one-sided effort which makes me wish I was born decades ago when social etiquette was not such a rare thing. Sometimes (and I think Lincoln would agree) a forced relationship is a hopeless cause.
For the sake of avoiding being vague and coy, I’ll give some specific examples.
I onced dated a guy who liked to throw himself pity parties. As an empathetic person, I immediately jumped to “pep talker” mode. I would point out his good features, bring him compliments, remind him of all of his best qualities. I became his source of a verbal ego-boost…and that was it. Days would go by without so much as a word, and the moment he felt insecure he called for some Kenzie-compliments. Once I gave him enough to feel sufficiently confident again, he disappeared.
I am not stupid. I’m not a fool who believes that he cared about me whatsoever. All along I was aware that he would bring me nothing but self-pity and I would give kindness and compassion. There is no balance for a relationship in that, and it felt like I was being “mean” when I eventually stopped responding. But the one-sidedness had to end.
A different offender was always less-than-enthusiastic to make plans beyond Netflix. He would use any lame excuse to get out of a hike, scenic drive or something else I enjoyed, including my Christmas party because he “didn’t want to pay for parking” (it was $5.)
Even a friend of mine once crushed on a classmate until the entirety of their relationship amounted to Snapchats. And for some reason that didn’t seem to be a problem to him. #lame.
*Don’t worry; none of these people know about my blog. I’m not passive-aggressive enough to write about someone who will find it.
The standard pattern: what starts as new and exciting grows comfortable. Comfort leads to laziness. Laziness loves convenience. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect someone to make an effort beyond convenience.
That’s another thing I’m learning. EXPECTATIONS RUIN REALITY. Unfortunately my high expectations lead to disappointment, more often than not. And to be fair, it is not someone’s fault that I had previously anticipated their reaction to be larger than life. It is far more beneficial to expect…….well, NOTHING. I’ve tried and tried to understand why someone can’t muster a simple “thank you” for a kind gesture or a surprise. I haven’t come to a conclusion. But I have learned that wasting MY energy on this only results in my own frustration. Instead, I can take the satisfaction knowing that I did something for someone with good intentions. It made me happy. And leave it at that.
Sadly, today a successful life has more to do with the number of followers on Twitter or the number of “likes” on a photograph. Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram and Facebook! They are convenient and entertaining (and sometimes addicting.) But that’s it. They are not measurements of a successful person. Success is being incredibly happy with your life regardless of how “perfect” it appears or how many people validated it on social media.
My dad says that posts like this look like I’m dabbling in the “Advice Column” department. I’m not hugely attracted to that label because it implies that I am qualified to offer answers and advice. In reality, I am a 21 year old girl with high expectations and certain opinions on what it means to be a “good person.” A blog is a pretty appropriate platform to speak on these, so I’m not opposed to expanding my content beyond running and recipes from time to time.
All I’m sayin’ is Abraham Lincoln may have been considered one of the ugliest presidents, but I bet he was a pretty great boyfriend. ;)
Well I just dropped a monster of a rant on you, didn’t I? You know you can vent to me if you need it, too!