LOS ORLANDOS LIFE LESSONS
Have you ever stopped to think about how you could have been a step or two away from living a completely different life? Maybe growing up, you were one class, one grade, or one school away from having a whole new group of friends? Or later in life, one relationship away from finding true love? Different life circumstances often lead to different results for all of us at any given time, for better or for worse. I was thinking to myself recently how I could potentially be helping to raise a 12-year-old right now because of choices I had made at a different time in my life. So naturally, the wheels started turning and I started thinking about what kind of life lessons I would want to pass on to any children I might have for real someday.
I grew up an only child, so I had to learn at an early age to entertain myself and make my own fun. I didn’t have very many friends back then either. It was a challenge learning to be okay with being alone. I’ve been alone a lot in life. I appreciate my alone time, but I also need to be around other people once in a while too. It’s a lot of work making and keeping friends, but I’ve usually found it helpful to try to be the kind of friend that I would want for myself. It’s helped me figure out what I want and what I don’t want in a friend.
My dad made it known to me a long time ago, “When you run out of money, you run out of friends.” I didn’t quite understand what he meant by that at the time. But I can remember how he used to have a snowplow on the front of an old Ford F-150 in the wintertime when I was little, and how his phone was consistently lit up with calls from people around town asking him to plow them out, thinking that he would do it “just because,” even though he wasn’t really making any extra money from it. It almost seemed a little too convenient that as soon as he got rid of that snowplow, his phone stopped ringing. Looking back on it now, it made me realize that there was some truth in his assessment. Some people won’t necessarily go out of their way to seek us out after we’re no longer “useful” to them.
I understand now that my dad was looking out for me and trying in his own way to protect me when he said that. I know he still worries about me, and suffice it to say, he has his reasons. I haven’t always chosen my friends as well as I could have, and I’ve bent over backwards for people who weren’t so good for me mentally when it wasn’t really in my best interest. He knows I care a lot about other people and I’m often eager to please. It’s put me in some compromising positions at times, and he doesn’t get any enjoyment out of seeing me getting taken advantage of when that happens.
Sometimes making and keeping friends means setting clear boundaries with them. Don’t ever forget that you have the power to say “no” to anything you’re not entirely comfortable with. A true friend would understand and respect your boundaries instead of trying to make you feel guilty about saying “no” when you need to. Having standards is important. Being true to yourself and what you believe in and knowing what you stand for is a good thing. It might not make you popular with some people, but it should help you find the right kind of friends, the kind of friends you deserve to have.
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