Years ago, someone in my family got quite angry with me for not acknowledging her daughter’s birthday. I remember the feelings of guilt and embarrassment, but it wasn’t because I hadn’t remembered. I was particularly un-wealthy at that point in my life, and didn’t want to just send a card (what 10-year-old is happy to get a card with nothing inside it?!).
When I did explain my reason for not sending a gift, this family member wasn’t any happier with me, and actually didn’t speak to me for some time. This was the way my family was, and I was just as guilty of this as the rest of them. There were set, unchanging, rules of conduct that everyone obeyed: You sent gifts on birthdays (even if you didn’t want to, or didn’t have the money), you went to every party that you were invited to (even if you didn’t want to), you called each other on a regular basis (even if you didn’t want to)….the list was endless, and if anyone stepped off this path of accepted behaviour, they became the subject of extreme scrutiny. There was no room for the individual on this path, no room for change.
I also remember when I made a decision to step away from this way of relating, not only to my family but with everyone. I made a decision to be honest in my relationships (which sounds like an easy thing) but felt like a huge risk. In time, I became aware that the people who were going to get angry at me for saying no, or not giving in a way that they thought was appropriate, were eventually going to get angry with me anyway.
I saw that I could drive myself crazy trying to be who they wanted me to be, or I could be true to myself see what happened. Much to my surprise, I found that the only loss I experienced was the feeling of desperately trying to be liked.
You cannot lose true relationships by being yourself.
If I want somebody to “dance to my tune” then I’m not even seeing who they are. Can I then call myself their friend? And if I am not being myself, I’m not really giving anyone the chance to like me. If you dance to your own tune, and I dance to mine, we may not like each other and that is OK …but we might Love each other, be surprised by each other, …we might learn that there are millions, billions, of dances in this incredible universe and we might make room for them all.
Who are you? Maybe you’re not the kind of friend who brings casseroles in a crisis, but sits and holds a friend in silent love. Maybe you don’t like to meet for coffee, but love to talk on the phone. What if you took this weekend to honor your own dance? What would it look like? Isn’t it time we found out…and started dancing.
“Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will not dance but will gossip about those who are dancing. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time“. don Miguel Ruiz*