December 16, 2016

The State of Naiveté

I was planning a trip and a friend offered to drop me off at the train station but by the time we were ready to leave our houses, hers to pick me up, I had my doubts about meeting the train. So I did the most sensible thing and called her being more experienced than me. "T", I said, "are you sure we won't miss the train? There is another time slot I can take after all I haven't bought the ticket." Being inexperienced with the process, I was worried I would need time to buy one and still find my platform. "We will make it", she assured me, "I am leaving the house now, it won't take me long to get to you." I looked at my infant and the thought of waiting at the train station in the cold for another hour till the next train bothered me. I went downstairs.

True to her word, she had arrived quickly and on spying me, drove up. "T", I asked again, "do you really think we will make the time?" "We most certainly will not", she replied this time. I blinked back in shock at how sure she sounded. The reality of the long wait ahead and the cold dawned on me as I struggled to shake my disappointment. For a brief second I felt my anger. If I hadn't been convinced, I would have waited and then ridden the bus to the station for the next train. Why did she make me set out now if she knew I would miss this one? (She likely hoped I wouldn't  miss it but let's stick with how I felt at the time to get my point).

A day later, I had a light bulb moment where I realized my actions in that experience were a case study of times I have made decisions in the past by depending on other people to decide for me. The transaction brought into focus different times I had doubted my instinct because I trusted someone who I felt knew what was either the best or not the worst for me, to act in my best interests.

In the case above, I ignored my uneasiness and felt that because someone had more experience they knew better.  It then came to me as a surprise that even though she knew what I wanted was to get to the station on time to meet my train, what she wanted was to drop me off but on her own time to still be able to meet up with other commitments.

If I were less naive I would have seen that what I wanted was a ride but not at the cost of missing the train or keeping my baby in the cold or running up and down with heavy bags and a baby trying to get to ticket and platform and train in a hassle. What she wanted was to give me one but not at the cost of missing other commitments if she waited.

The lesson I have been missing that has made me fall victim to more harsh and costly transactions in the past is that underneath what everyone does for you is a motive they need for themselves to be able to do it. What they are giving you is based on their motive and while it may serve you it isn't because of your motive. And sometimes it will not serve you, and you will go back to them and say "this thing we did has caused this problem for me", but if they are the insensitive type, they will say "own your choice, don't blame me for it". Then you will be left to pick up the pieces because the consequences have become your problem, not theirs. And you will blame them for getting you into this tight corner. You may even feel they owe you after all you did what they wanted you to do. 

The shock for you who is experiencing the state of naiveté is that in your honest of hearts, you were truly convinced by them and depended on them to know and do what was best for you but the one who decides is the one whose interests are served

Now my friend isn't a selfish person at all, she was risking missing her commitments and left her babies and husband to help me. In fact you can look at it another way and say I was the compliant one who didn't share my true concerns and speak up about them.

And I have been compliant in those decisions I see in the past where I didn't speak up or if I did, I didn't stand up for my interests. In all of those scenarios including this one, it was me who knew what I needed and it should have been me who I entrusted to decide what was in my best interest rather than place that responsibility on people to do what only I could and should do.
When we got to the station, there was a third train leaving in twenty minutes to a different stop but en route mine. I had enough time to get tickets and survey my environment without keeping my baby too long in the cold.  

It all worked out in the end.

In a sense, it always can and it always does.



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