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To give of yourself...

Jamieson Van Loan

I am a giver. Of all things. I give completely to my friends and family. I share openly and candidly about my life. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I listen wholeheartedly and give good (hopefully!) advice. I would give the shirt off my back to a stranger if it would enhance their day. I find joy in being available to help others and would bend over backwards for the people in my tribe.

Being a giver is a part of my essence. It feeds my soul. Cooking for people is an extension of this. I am at my happiest when I bring joy to other people’s lives. What I did not realize is that being a giver in life is not always positive. It means I’m not great with taking.

It has taken me years to truly accept compliments. I cannot ever put myself before others. I'd sacrifice my own needs to fulfill theirs. I am not good at asking for help. I find it difficult to accept gifts from others. My automatic mental response is what can I do for them in return? Just this past year has been the first time I’ve ever accepted friends buying me lunch or dinner, without my need to plan my immediate reciprocation.

More importantly, it means I am not good when people don’t give back. When I give my all, I expect a version in return.

This is where the lessons begin.

No one ever needs to meet you where you stand. Ever. Remember that next time you’re feeling hurt by someone. They do not need to understand your thought process or reach out to you as much as you do to them. They are following their own heart and mind. You cannot fault someone for not caring in the same capacity that you do. This does not mean the person doesn’t care; it only shows distinctions in our mode of export.

Is it amazing when they do? Yes. Completely. But seeking anger for someone not sharing your views and/or characteristics solely hurts you. 

For those of you like myself, there is a rare moment when the people we care and give to are unsure of where they stand in our lives. For those of you unlike myself, I would vouch that vulnerability is not at your core and you express your love (giving is at its essence an expression of love) for someone in variety of ways but you are not shouting it from the proverbial mountaintop. 

The problems arise when a giver and, for lack of a better term, a taker cannot figure out how to frame their relationship. It is not easy. I’ve had and still have plenty of takers in my life. My job is not to fault them for not aligning with my practices but to show them love without the prerequisite of reciprocation. Being self aware enough to understand that I am choosing to give with zero expectations of mutuality is no easy feat. It requires serious mental work.

My initial (and immature) thought process was “how can people not think exactly how I do?” I spend majority of my life checking in with loved ones and making sure my tribe is happy and if they aren’t, what can I do to improve that? Isn’t this the BEST way to be?!

The answer is: no, nay, nah. 

This is just the best way for me to be. It is my authentic self. I cannot judge others for not being or thinking the way I do.

How often does this question creep into your head: what were they thinking?! Or why didn't they do XYZ? 

Stop yourself right there. There is nothing to be gained by going down this rabbit hole. It is a judgment zone and only creates a negative mental state. 

To stave away from this state you have to constantly remind yourself that your choices are yours and yours alone. If you choose to give your all to another, that is only on you and there is no guarantee for reciprocation. 

If we could all be aware of our differences and respect them, even if we do no agree with them, we would all benefit.

Regardless if you are a giver or taker, life is about acknowledging said differences and accepting them as a part of the whole.

And please, for the sake of all stop saying things like "well I did this, therefore I expected.." Stop expecting. You are only hurting yourself. 

To be open enough to give of yourself is a beautiful thing but to be smart enough to take and really accept what the universe happily hands over is an awakening. 

Be the balance. Be a giver and a taker.