Why We Need More Of You In Your Life

Because it is easier for us to forgive, ignore, and forget other people than ourselves, because we tend to seek forgiveness for ourselves first, and because we tend not to forgive and not to forget (even after we admit to it), we have trouble forgiving others for any failure. We find excuses for them, and we turn down other opportunities because we have not forgiven ourselves.

We all have a roster of fruits and veggies that we know and love (or tolerate), but occasionally we’re thrown for a loop: what is this oddly colored root? Is that a tomatillo or a type of berry? Farmer’s markets, CSA boxes and friends’ gardens can all be the source of surprising bounty in summer months.

I’ve known this ever since I had my very own vegetable garden, where I was able to get some truly exotic produce: tomatoes, squash blossoms, basil, sweet peppers, and cucumbers. What I didn’t know then, and know now, is that my garden is, for lack of a better term, an excuse for people who want to give us presents. The vegetable market is my excuse for sending a thank you to everyone in my family for how hard they’re working for our income and our health, without having to send flowers or hand-written notes (and by the way, if you are a mother and you aren’t sending a thank you, I think you should consider giving up your job and becoming a home-based daycare worker. 

I’ve known this all my life, but I just recently started paying attention, because I had the honor of going to a dinner table where each person in our family brought a gift on the back of an avocado! When a child’s birthday is nearing, she’s excited to see some nice little presents on the basket. But, when the time comes for her to ask for her present, her mom doesn’t know what to say — because we’ve all been there before.

I know we all do a lot of things to make people happy, but why do so many of us spend time with people who are doing nothing except trying to get a little attention from us?

Is this a problem with my generation? Are we so quick to give compliments and make small talk when we could do something meaningful? We are so eager to fill the empty space in our lives with people who care about us, it’s almost too hard to stay connected with friends — and strangers. It’s also true that our “new friends” are always very nice, but when you get used to being with those people, their kindness fades. Our friendliness disappears. Our connection to them is replaced with an endless sense of obligation, and it’s as if we always feel that we have to be the one to extend all the hand-holding and thank you cards. What’s happening is that we’ve changed the rules of the game and, instead of being generous with others, we’re spending endless hours (and minutes) sending thank you cards and making small talk.

If you haven’t seen my “How To Stop Making Excuses For Yourself” post, go read it now. If you’ve just returned from an extended vacation, go read it as well. It’s very good! But I wanted to highlight this point for you all: the reason we are not generous enough with one another is because we’ve been taught to be selfish. We have come to believe that we can do anything we want to with one another, and that we should never be asked to give anything in return.

So, if you feel that this trend I talk about is affecting your life and our community, it’s time to think about what your role is in making excuses for yourself.