Simple Definition of consideration
: careful thought : the act of thinking carefully about something you will make a decision about
: a desire to avoid doing something that will make another person sad, upset, angry, etc.
: something that you think about when you make a choice or decision
For the bulk of the year I have been telling myself to “stop getting so offended” by those I felt close to, whether they were friends or family. But after several real offenses, I am now telling myself, “cut out those repeat offenders.” Do you have people in your life who continue to take advantage and the relationship you have with them is a one-way street? (Meaning only beneficial for them, and when they have no use for you, it’s adios?)
I also used to have this bad habit of thinking that family is family, blood is blood, you should always go above and beyond for family. Even if they don’t reciprocate it. Why? Why am I so stuck on this notion that family is always going to be there? Perhaps it’s because I know that I would, in a drop of a hat, be there for family if they needed me, but I am slowly realizing that just because you are related, this does not obligate you to do anyone any favors. Family is #1 in taking advantage of your time and efforts, and this is common in every family, it’s a known fact. “Hey cuz…” “hey fam..” You just know those sentences are ending with a favor they need. This is okay and expected, but if you want to keep your sanity? I would suggest limiting* those actual favors. If I didn’t grow up with you, if you are more a stranger to me than a co-worker, I don’t owe you anything, just because we have similar blood running through our veins.
My husband works hard all year long. He barely gets time off, and when he does, it’s usually to shoot a wedding with me. So when he finally had a few weeks in a row, we planned a trip to the Philippines. Those who know me know that I am a planner. When I travel with my family, I make sure we have some sort of itinerary while leaving room for spontaneous dinners and meet ups, but surely our accommodations are in line. To make a long story short, and without naming names, we had planned for months to be somewhere for a portion of our stay, and three days prior to moving our things to a new location, we were told very vaguely that we couldn’t stay there anymore, by a messenger. The people who had done the initial inviting, never reached out with a reason, they sent someone else to tell us. I know in the Philippines, the culture is definitely “non-confrontational”, but we are talking about family here. Family, who should have had the decency to tell me themselves, and not leave us hanging with a non-excuse. This type of inconvenience not only affected myself, husband, and our children, but other family members around us who had to cancel plans in order for us to have a place to stay. We also were left in the city for 4 days with nothing to do since the previous invites to leave town were turned down in order to stay with these other family members who completely left us hanging. The one I felt the most upset for was Jeff, knowing that this was his only vacation time in the entire year. Knowing he wouldn’t be seeing his kids for another 5 weeks since he was leaving us soon (he flew back earlier), and just having half his trip ruined.
This was back in February. Do you know that it’s been MONTHS and they haven’t reached out since? Months. Now, you tell me. Upon reading this, would you consider these people family and folks you should drop everything for if and when they need a favor? This is a struggle for me, because I have and continue to care and do things for people who have treated me in such a way. I know it needs to stop, and I have to be able to say no with grace. I would never treat family in this way, I would never leave someone hanging, especially when they are an ocean away from home, and when their time is so limited as it was. I know our next big family trip, Jeff is likely not going to care to visit the Philippines again.
This isn’t even including the other 3-4 people who flaked throughout the visit. Really Manila, I get that you’re non-confrontational but flakey too and that’s just acceptable there? Do you know how many people since have told me, “it’s a culture thing.” ? So that makes it okay?
You know why it’s more important now more than ever to put my foot down towards these types of people? I have little witnesses. My children. I don’t want my children to ever grow up thinking that just because other people act a certain way that it’s acceptable and should be tolerated. I want to raise strong children, who mean what they say and say what they mean. I want to raise up children who let their yes be yes and their no be no.
..But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’ – Matthew 5:37
Have you experienced being treated similarly by someone you thought you were close to? Have you treated someone else like this in the past, or even recently? In life with all the busyness and getting older, having to prioritize, we naturally weed out those we don’t imagine ourselves with in the future. When it comes to my friends, I have to consider the ones who can sit with me and enjoy good wine and conversation, because that’s all I want in my older years. I do* plan on retiring from photography eventually, so if I don’t even know a person past having to take their photos yearly, they are likely gone from that list. And that’s okay. Once you have a family, a family that you absolutely love and adore, you need not care who you remove from that list, especially if it means putting someone else first. In my 20’s, I really made it a point to set aside time during the week to meet with anyone I hadn’t seen in over a month or two. It was taxing on my relationship at times, especially when my husband would rather stay home and just watch a show, or catch up with me without company around. Now, that’s all I want.
Learn to say NO. Learn to not over-extend yourself. If you’re too busy or not interested, it’s best to be honest than to commit yourself to something and then leave people hanging. It’s not a good feeling. Do you say YES to every invite? Don’t you know that the person who is hosting has to prepare for you? Do you understand that they consider what you will eat, drink, and how to keep you entertained for the time you’re in their presence? It’s downright rude and disrespectful to continue to be a flaky person. If this was you in your 20’s, and it’s still you in your 30’s, I say this with kindness and sincerity: grow up. Be an adult, stop making excuses for your inconsistency, own up to things already! You have no excuse any more. You will be that 40 yr old with no friends wondering why people don’t call you any more, and ignore any calls you make to them. Furthermore, own up to when you are wrong and reach out if you truly care to salvage a relationship.
Let’s get one thing straight, I am a firm believer in: being offended doesn’t make you right.
However, you do have the right to be offended. Caring about other people’s feelings isn’t just the difference between being a jerk and not being a jerk — it is essential to our progress as a species: Empathy is evolution in progress. In fact, the world could use a little more empathy, in my opinion.
I am in those years, where, all my friends parents are starting to die. I remember a decade ago we were all losing grandparents, now, it’s parents. It scares me. It makes me think there’s just not enough time any more to spend with everyone, so you have to choose wisely who that free time is spent with. I know this sounds morbid, but when I see aunts and uncles, I tell myself, “you might only see this person a handful more times in your life.” It’s the truth! Life is so incredibly short.
That was my mission this summer: saying NO. I take on too much and I know that about myself. Often it’s for the convenience of others, but that’s slowly been changing. It feels good. If you say no to something, there’s no expectations, you are no longer a flake, you’re just unavailable. There’s a huge difference. <3 Cheers everyone, wishing you all a safe and happy weekend! -Talia
All content and images copyright TheSisterFiles©2016 and cannot be used without expressed permission.
Photos by: Jeffery Cruz