I had a beer with a good mate this week. He’s usually really easy going but I could tell straight away he was stressed. We caught up first and then got to the heart of the matter- relationship drama. Now, I was a few pints in so I gave the best advice I could!
I think I helped. Well, I hope I did. At least I listened. Which is sometimes all your friends need- a sounding board. And I was happy I could be there for him because he’s my mate, so I care if he’s having a hard time!
Anywho, as I headed home on the train I looked out the window and began to unwind from the day. I’d been up at 5.30am for a spin class, wrote for 2 hours then headed to my day job and straight to see my mate after that. I was pretty weary. But there was someone who wanted my attention…
A guy had been looking at me for a while. I ignored the unwanted attention as much as I could. However, I knew the inevitable was coming. He finally piped up- ‘How are you?’ I replied- ‘good thanks. You?’ He responded- ‘oh not too good actually.’
So I was at a point where I could ask him why or continue my peaceful staring out the window after a long day. Usually I would’ve felt bad and asked him what was wrong. Not today though. I made a different choice. I said- ‘oh that’s no good.’ And went back to looking out the window.
Now some of you may be thinking I should’ve asked this guy about his problems. I know some of you would’ve. I’ve done it many times before in similar situations. But you know what? He was a perfect stranger and I didn’t owe him anything. Of course if he were in dire straights I would’ve been more sympathetic. However he was just a guy who decided he wanted to dump his problems on me.
I felt a bit bad as I ignored him. Maybe I was an uncaring d*ck? As my brain continued to twist around the issue I realised I’d just sat with my mate and debriefed his relationship stuff. And as I said I was happy to be there for him and I always will be- that’s what friends are for! But this stranger wasn’t my mate. And I wasn’t obligated to make him feel better.
If I’d forced myself to listen to this random guy I would’ve disrespected my boundaries. Which may seem trivial but it’s not. No, this stranger wasn’t harming me but I’ve been in far worse situations where I’ve felt too nice to tell someone their actions towards me weren’t wanted.
Making this seemingly small choice and saying- ‘no you don’t get to do this to me,’ helps me feel more confident that I can say ‘no’ to unwanted behaviour in the future. Because I shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable so someone else can get what they want.
Nobody should ever feel that way.