*Dear K, if you are reading this, please don’t feel that I have deceived you because I am now always who I was when I was with you. R.
In my mind, I’ve always held this “honourable” view.
I don’t know where I get it from, because I’ve never met anyone who shares it to the extent that I do, and I’ve had it at least since I was seven.
The view was “You should keep your word; any words you use are a promise, and if you break a promise, you deserve to die.”
I remember so clearly the day I cried because in my heart, I felt I didn’t deserve to live because I’d not been able to keep a promise; I’d been too scared to move.
Yet, as I aged, I found myself telling the odd half-truth, and I remember exactly when I made the last three promises. One was April / May 2007. One was in April 2005 and they promised me the same back. The other was a couple of years even before that.
I learnt not to promise, never to “give my word” and I began to hedge everything with ifs and buts.
Magic: The Opening
In 2009, three other students and I were looking around a student house when I recognised the photo of my friend in one of the bedrooms. He wasn’t in, but I asked his housemate, K, if he lived with my friend.
I also noticed some “magic: the gathering” cards on K’s shelf and commented that I used to play it at college.
He said “I’d be happy to take you to the SWARM society and we could play a game” and I, barely hearing him, said “I’ll think about it” in such a noncommittal manner, I saw his face fall.
Something struck me then. The memory of me as a child, of my word, of honour and honesty. I’d said it, so now I had to think about it.
I saw his face and tilted my head to catch his eye. “I mean it, I really will.”
He didn’t seem convinced, which strengthened my resolve further. To cut the long story short, I contacted my friend and asked if K would give me the details of SWARM. I won the game on a technicality (more than I ever did at college, so yay!) and we’re still friends.
This guy, K, did business studies. When he took me to my first ever gig with another friend of ours, he talked a lot about how the recession was affecting things and how it would continue to affect us. I nodded and only half paid attention again; it was late, my attention was all about seeing a band live (for the first time!) and I had no prior knowledge of business or money to add this new information to.
The next morning, I vaguely remembered having said I’d love to see his essay report on how the financial affairs had come about, once he’d given it in for his coursework. I don’t remember why I’d said that, but I had and thus, a month later, I emailed to ask if I could read it. It was actually very enlightening to read, but the main reason was to keep up this belief (to him and to myself) that I’m still a decent, honest person.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but in keeping this façade of being an honourable human with just one person, I have come to really value the power of the word; the strength of relationships built on true listening and hearing of each other (these days I listen intently to and understand his business talk).
And it has spread out to other areas of my life. It may take me 6 months, but if I tell you that I’ll do something for you; I will.
- If I say “you know where I am if you need me”, I’m not being polite. I’m seriously passionate about making sure you have the support you need. I have had friends ring me at 2am on the verge of suicide. And I am 100% happy to deal with that.
- I can help you define where you want to be a month from now, and I don’t mind you coming on skype in tears to ask me for that help. Or just for a hug and to listen. If I message you to say I’m here for you, I truly mean it.
In the end, this redefinition was all about my intense need to be in line with my values. I hate hypocrites and I value honour – thus I became honourable.
If you want to redefine how you act and what views you hold, try to be the “new you” with someone you’ve just met. It’s easier if they’re not friends with your closest friends; but even so, in time you’ll be like that with everyone. You can change things slowly, one thing at a time.
What would you shift?
Pick one thing, meet one person (or just change that aspect with someone you don’t know too well yet) and go with it. Leave a comment if you’d like some support or a little nudge in how to go about it all. Seriously.
I think for my next introduction, I’ll practise speaking without “like” or “you know” in every sentence. I’d like to change that about myself.
– Rose –
* That picture is from March this year, sharing a drink at midnight. I kept my word.