It doesn’t matter how much you do for others if you’re not open with them.
It took me 35 years and a lot of confusing relationships to understand that. I’d just assumed that people would love you for the good things you did for them, and be thankful you kept your business to yourself. But they’re not. Most folks want to know who you are, what you struggle with, and how you deal. They want to relate.
The success of Marvel’s Avengers is the perfect example of this. Thor, for instance, is a literal Norse God; but he can’t get shit right with his brother. Iron Man is a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist; and a drunken narcissist. Everything good in Cap came out of a bottle. The Hulk has anger issues, and Black Widow is a murder.
Without their idiosyncrasies, they’re, well, super. Too super to understand. And if you come off as a superpowered creature trying to clean up someone else’s mess, everyone else becomes a toddler. That’s why Superman is such a hard sell. Yeah, they hype up the alien orphan and “don’t we all feel alone at times” thing, but he’s still exceedingly superior and we kinda hate him for it.
At first, being more open felt like wearing flip flops in the snow. I was exposed and it didn’t make me feel any better. But people responded. Some of those tongue in cheek half insult half compliments disappeared, and relationships that were always a struggle seemed to relax like ass into recliner. So even though it’s as odd as sunbathing in a snowstorm, I open up more today than I ever have. Makes me remember why I closed myself off to begin with.
Some people, you see, only really care about what you can do for them. They don’t give a shit about you or your hopes and dreams and values. As soon as you’ve exhausted whatever tricks you have, they’re off to the next, unwilling to pour into you the way you did for them. There’s more of these humans around than you think. Some of us can’t tell the difference because we’re naive. Others can’t tell who the selfish assholes are because we’re them. It knocked me down a peg and almost made me swear off this whole openness thing altogether. Then I tried something that stuck. Instead of feeling offended, hurt, taken advantage or screwed over, I said “nevermind.”
Like, literally, “never” and “mind.” Like, “get the fuck out of my mind with your bullshit.” Like, “I can tell you’re not paying attention to me, so nevermind asshole.”
Instead of taking the bait in meaningless arguments, I said nevermind and realized how little I give a shit about proving my rightness. Instead of feeling hurt when I can tell people are using me or just waiting for their turn to speak, I said nevermind and thanked the good dude upstairs for the warning. Instead of worrying about all the things that are wrong with me, I said nevermind — they’re the one with the problem.
Bunch's work can also be found at joshbunch.com and other rousing websites that focus on fitness, human overengineering and general awesomeness. If you want him to write something just as stunning for your crowd, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org