Recently an old friend from HS came to visit. She’s someone who has always thought of herself as very mature for her age, a good decision maker, and very open-minded, but it was hard because she has in fact stagnated at the just-graduated-from-college stage, where she’s always looking for a good time and puts in a pretty small effort to prepare for the future.
After her visit, I felt really used; it was clear that my purpose to her was to let her talk about herself, to praise her every decision (including that of walking away from her creditors, despite now having enough money to make payments), and to not talk about any of my beliefs that with which I knew she didn’t agree.
I was supposed to serve the purposes for which she liked me, but one big change I’ve undergone in the last year or two is that I no longer sit back and withhold my religious and political perspective from people who know what camp I’m in, disagree with my worldview, and engage in the topics anyway, with the expectation that–since I’m wrong–I’ll let them share without interrupting with my annoying opinions.
For example: someone brings up the budget crisis, this person fully believes that we should keep spending without cutting, and just raise taxes on the rich; I am not supposed to say anything, since my belief that that the government can’t continuously expand in all directions is clearly a stupid, selfish point of view, and I should know that; when I do point out data that’s influenced me, the other person is uncomfortable that I’ve shifted our dynamic and am being difficult.
Now that I refuse to do this, I’ve gotten rid of a few crap friendships that always left me feeling drained and the other person feeling great. I don’t want to simply reverse things and be that jerk, but I’ve starting to realize that I don’t want to be a silent coward for the sake of being accepted by people with whom I don’t even really enjoy spending time.