I’ve recently pushed away an old friend by telling him what I really thought. Namely that he was contradicting himself. Not walking the talk.
He’s been claiming ever since I met him that he wants to help poor people in Africa.
Recently he got an excellent opportunity to work in Africa with children. With a decent salary.
At the very, very last moment he froze. He just couldn’t get into the airplane. On two separate nights he tried to take off and every time he balked at the last minute.
At the same time he said I should teach some of my students for free.
I explained that this would destroy my market. If people find out you are willing to work for free, guess what, more and more people will want you to work for free.
Then he said I wanted to have it easy.
Hmm, I admit I have a job right now that gets me money and quite a bit of freedom. But to get there was really not easy. It was bloody hard. And I’ve done plenty of stuff for free. In fact, I was the voluntary coach of this friend for years, through an organisation in Belgium. That’s how we met. An experience I don’t regret, I would do it again.
I got quite annoyed and felt that he should have gone to Rwanda. Over the years I’ve seen him turn into some wandering bum. In part I got annoyed from this, because I hate my own laziness. Am always scared of goofing off, of being a slacker. It’s perhaps my worst nightmare. If I have a nightmare it’s connected to me not accomplishing anything. So when I see someone pass on a good opportunity my blood goes up.
We started yelling at each other. Quite a lot of dirt flew around. We both know where to hit. I cut off the discussion before I said anything really hurtful.
My question now is: should I have kept my mouth shut? It’s his choice not to go to Africa. I admit that because I struggle to build something I get angry when I see people being hedonistic. Over the years he’s had quite a party. He’s lost a lot of money on all kinds of pleasures. It didn’t anger me at first, quite the contrary, because he worked with abused and neglected children for 20 years before he became some kind of vagabond.
In a different mood I might have reacted differently. We had the conversation on a day I had to get up extra early to teach at some company with the most challenging students.
We’re not on talking terms now, and the debate got so overheated, that I suppose this won’t change so quickly.
Most of all I realize that my reaction was born out of my frustration and anger at my own situation. My situation is pretty good, but it’s far removed from what I had imagined my life would become.
The only reason why I think I should NOT have remained silent, is that it would have been inauthentic.
The discussion was painful, but some of the insults he threw around had some truth to them. In a way I’m grateful for the exchange. He basically said that I feel rejected by the world and this makes me angry. This is true, and it’s something I would like to change.
If it’s phony love that’s being served by not speaking, I would say: by all means speak up.
From experience I can also say that a truly strong relationship recuperates even after the most vicious arguments.
And perhaps not everyone we become friends with is supposed to stay in our lives forever.
Better lose a friend who gives you a good kick in the nuts as he leaves, then keep a friend around who only ever tells you what you like to hear.