I’ve been reading Blue Like Jazz recently, so that might be why this is fresh in my head, but I’ve been so discouraged recently by the selfishness of humanity. There have been times in the last couple weeks where I’ve been made painfully aware of this in others as well as myself.
I feel like the true definition of Christianity is the letting go of self interest, and that’s such a rare thing to find. I’ve found myself several times recently thinking “is everybody just living for themself?”
I think extroverts like myself tend to be a strange combination of selfishness and unselfishness (although who isn’t I guess). For me, I’ve always had the instinct to sacrifice. One time in college there was a girl that I had a pretty big crush on for a while, but never got up the nerve to ask her out. Well, a friend of mine totally fell in love with her and ended up going out with her for a while, before they broke it off. I still had a crush on her, but I knew that I could never act on that because of what she meant to my friend. And I never did.
Even recently I’ve had a couple different friends who have had crushes on a couple different girls that I’ve also had crushes on, but I chose to back off, so that there wouldn’t be any awkward conflict between us. I wonder if those friends ever even noticed. I’m doubting it. However, the sacrificial instinct is one that I just have, and there’s really nothing I can do about it. I know it’s a good thing to have in regards to “being a good person,” but at the same time, I often feel very alone because of it (I’m not sure if that makes any sense).
However, that leads to the thing that has upset me more in recent weeks, and that is my own selfishness.
For example, just last night I hung out with a couple of friends and a girl that I sort of have a crush on, and who likes me as far as I can tell, but probably will never have a very deep relationship with. One of my friends who was there with me basically said “oh it’s so cute how she has a crush on so-and-so” (so-and-so here being another guy that is not me). I said “well that sucks, I want her to have a crush on me.” To which she said “I know” in a very matter of fact way that kind of made me want to punch her (which I would never do, obviously, because I adore her). That comment she made could have possibly wrecked my entire night and if it weren’t for the girl I have a crush on hanging out with me and clearly liking me (not sure in what way), it would have. (seriously, with how special she made me feel last night, it’s surprising to me that I’m still in the mood to write this post at all)
So that confusing high school-esque story is all to say, what bugs me is not that this other guy was receiving her attention (the guy being a good friend of mine as well) but that it wasn’t me that she had a crush on. Now I know it’s human to want to be wanted, but I hate it at the same time. I’m so afraid and tired of being pathetic (even thinking about it now makes my heart beat in desperation). I’m tired of always being the “friend.” However, why do I feel that way? Because it’s not as cool being the friend. Cool is being the cute guy that all the girls want. We all want to be the cute guy, and sometimes we’ll go to any length to be that.
Another similarly immature social reaction example was the other night when I was hanging out with a large group of friends, one of whom (an attractive single female) mentioned to me that a friend of mine was cute, and was quite disappointed when I told her that he had a girlfriend. I tried my best to hide it, but I was really disappointed, not because I necessarily have any feelings for this female, but because I wanted to be the cute guy, and clearly I wasn’t.
I hate this need, and I want so badly to let it go. I can’t help but think of all the good I could be doing in the world, all the lives I could be helping and affecting, if I could just let go of my own wants for once. What if I didn’t care if I was the cute guy? What if I didn’t care whether specific girls were attracted to me or not? What a freedom that would be, not because I could totally let myself go and not be nearly as self-conscious (though that would be a big plus), but because I would waste so little time feeling sorry for myself, and that’s energy I could spend investing in those people, without any expectation of something in return. I want that so badly.
The closest example I’ve personally had to that is my friend Zach, who is quite possibly the most self-less person I’ve ever met (which is ironic that his wife recently left him saying he was unsupportive, which is total bull shit). I hung out with him when he was in the midst of his marriage falling apart, and in the middle of having a conversation about this incredibly emotional time for him, he said “so hey man, your band’s doing really well! That’s so awesome, I’m so excited for you guys!” I was floored that at the one time he had absolutely every right to dominate the discussion and have it be all about him (and I would have been fine with that), he chose to still support me and take an interest in what I was doing.
I wish I did that. I wish I could let go of myself even in the most trying times to choose to support those I love, but that’s an instinct I have not had. I hope that’s something I can develop, but it’s going to take a lot of letting go on my part, and my self-consummation is a hard habit to break.
I’m tired of being trapped in this self-obsessed world, but I live in the hope that we will all work at breaking that. Just think of the kind of world this would be if we did that. It’s hard to imagine how beautiful, meaningful and real that would be.