Sometimes being proved wrong improves your life. This story is one of them. Actually, my friend and I both proved each other wrong and it worked out well.
If you’ve been reading this page, you know how much I value self-awareness and emotional intelligence. I’ve worked hard to develop resilience to feeling bad when things don’t go my way. I like being able to stay calm under pressure.
I have a great friend — a borderline celebrity whose identity is important enough I can’t mention it in this context — but we’ve been friends for years. Why can’t I mention her name? Because, and I don’t think she’d disagree with me for saying this, she’s crazy.
When I met her she had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I’m not a professional psychologist or psychiatrist, so I don’t know that much about the disorder. But I found her an interesting person and could tell she was successful in her career, which involved a lot of public appearances and interacting with fans and managers that I would think such a disorder would make impossible.
From my observations years ago, she seemed a lot like friends of mine who were just spoiled — like their parents rarely said no to them. I don’t want to sound insensitive. On the contrary. I observed her to be a capable woman. Whatever her problems, she was able to overcome them when she needed to. Why couldn’t she apply whatever worked in those situations in other situations where she lost control?
More importantly, I could tell she could function in society so I thought focusing on improving her social skills and self-awareness could help her more than focusing on understand her disorder.
Let me put this in context. She was making her way to getting professional help from professionals some day. I was a friend and only talked to her as a friend, not as a professional therapist or whatever type of professional she saw.
Still, I stuck with my message: “You can get better yourself. You don’t have to be this way if you don’t want to.”
Her message seemed: “I have a problem that I can’t fix on my own. It’s not my choice.”
I was frustrated with her unwillingness to change. Eventually I came to accept that she wasn’t going to change. Whether it was impossible even if she wanted to or she just didn’t want to, it wasn’t going to happen. We could still be friends anyway. I just had to be careful inviting her to events where emotional outbursts from her would get me in trouble.
Then after a few years she said to me, “Josh, I don’t know if you noticed, but I’ve been working on it and I’ve gotten over a lot of that old behavior.”
I quickly looked back at her recent behavior at the time and realized I hadn’t noticed it, but she had changed. The arguments, not looking at other people’s perspective, yelling, etc… I hadn’t seen it in a while.
Meanwhile, I hadn’t kept an open mind to observe her behavior outside my expectation that she would act like before.
So she proved my belief that she wasn’t going to change wrong.
And she proved something right too — that she could improve.
[EDIT: She read this post and said she agreed calling her crazy. She said she would say “… that she could grow” for the last sentence, but didn’t disagree with my word “improve.”]
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