I used to think I was a pretty decent judge of character. I thought I could spot certain personality traits fairly easily. Over the years, though, I've made several HUGE errors in character judgment and had just chalked those errors up to misreading an anomalous personality. Just recently, I've started to notice that I screw up more than I get it right. I'm starting to think those egregious missteps were less anomaly and more plain stupidity on my part. Looking back, I've completely written off perfectly amazing people, like Jed Bodger and Dalton Brown, because I thought I had them figured out. I had them both pegged as a big, happy-go-lucky, empty headed jocks. Nothing could have been further from the truth. With guys like Dalton and Jed, I actually enjoy being wrong because it means that they had SO much more to offer than I initially saw.
Conversely, I've given WAY too much credit, attention and love to people that I thought were brilliant individuals, only to discover later that who they were deep down really scared me. Both of DJC's old roommates, Kevin Brown, and one o-chem lab partner (who will remain nameless) fall into this category. It's cases like this that make me question why it is that I only see what I want to see in people when I first meet them and why I choose to ignore the fairly obvious signs telling me about fairly obvious flaws. Friendships like these always end poorly, although more for me than for the other person, mostly because I'm disappointed in me...but definitely in them, too. I guess I just expect people to fit into my idea of what, or who, I think they are. My bad....
I know no one is perfect. Humans, by nature, are flawed. Hell, I'm the most flawed of all. And I'm OK with who I am. But in the future, I really need to listen to my inner voice when I see people display characteristics that I know will cause me grief in the future. I need to stop seeing only what I want to see.
On Saturday night, BL and I had a very deep (albeit drunk) conversation that made all of these missteps clear as day to me. He recounted a time when his mother laid it all out for him: "There are two types of people", she said. "One type whose energy you will feed off of and vice versa, and one type that will steal your energy and drain you." At the time, BL blew it off, but over the years her words made more and more sense to him....just as they did to me on Saturday night. All of a sudden, a recent friendship that had ended badly was exposed for what it was...a complete drain on my mental energy. BL said that he's known people that fall into the second group, and those people never stay around for long. Something always happens to drive the friendship to an end. Astonishingly, I knew exactly what he meant.
Sadly, since my original post back in 2007, I haven't gotten any better at listening to my inner voice about certain people I've met. Since my last post, two people have taken me for all I'm worth...and I've let them. But after my enlightening conversation with BL last weekend, its all much clearer now. Recognizing who's who is half the battle. Really.
BL is one of the ones whose energy I feed off of. It's contagious. Over the years, he has pushed me WAY beyond where I am willing to go, mentally, physically, and emotionally. But I know he'd never do anything to willingly hurt me and if things were to go wrong, I am comfortable in the unequivocal knowledge that he'd be there to pick my ass up. With the recent ex-friend situation, I'm not so sure. That's a big distinction for me. I trust all too easily.
At the end of the day, we all have a fair number of both types of people in our lives. But knowing who's got your back and who you can trust...that's the key.