I was at a party over the weekend, chatting with a couple of friends, when one of them told me how much she had enjoyed my most recent blog post. She turned to the other friend and asked, “Didn’t you think it was funny?” The other friend looked embarrassed, and then said, “Actually, I don’t read her blog.” A few days later, that friend called me an apologized, worried that she had offended me. She told me that her life was very busy right now, and that she didn’t really have time to read anything, not even a friend’s blog.
I quickly reassured her that there was no need for her to apologize. And there wasn’t. We’ve been friends for a very long time, and I know perfectly well that she’s not a big reader. I also know that she is a kind and generous soul who would never deliberately do anything to hurt anyone’s feelings, including mine. And I have learned over the years not to be offended when I discover that a friend or family member doesn’t read my posts.
I admit that when I first started my blog, I (naively) believed that I could count on all my friends and family to read it, and also figured that they would probably be my only readers. But I soon discovered that people who didn’t particularly enjoy reading weren’t suddenly going to change their ways just because I had started a blog. And that not supporting my blog didn’t mean they didn’t care about me, and that I couldn’t count on them in other, equally important, ways.
Our friends and family members are unique individuals, with their own particular strengths and weaknesses. And if we’re wise, we remember exactly what those strengths and weaknesses are when we’re looking for support or help. A friend who is chronically late is not the person to ask for a ride to the airport, at least not if you want to make sure you don’t miss your plane. And if you know someone has a hard time being discreet, that’s not the person you go to when you want to confide a deep, dark secret.
I think the trick is to remember that no one can be “all things to all people,” and to remember that everyone who is close to us enriches our lives in their own, unique way. Maybe the friend with the loose lips is the perfect person to call when you need a ride to the airport, or maybe the friend who is never on time happens to be excellent at keeping a secret. It’s a matter of knowing someone well enough to have a pretty good idea of what they can, and cannot, do for us. Then we don’t set ourselves up for disappointment by expecting something that they aren’t capable of giving. Personally, I really appreciate my friends who take the time to read my blog. But I also value the ones who don’t.
We don’t do anyone, least of all ourselves, any favors when we don’t see our friends and family for who they really are, and that includes their strengths, their weaknesses, and even just their personal tastes. And if we really care about them, we’re more than willing to love and accept them just exactly as they are.