Good or Bad, Does it Need a Label?

Recently, one of my best friends lost her Dad. We are in our 40s, so we knew these things would start to happen, but we certainly didn’t expect it so soon. My friend was understandably heartbroken, and it broke my own heart to see her that way. Her Dad was a wonderful man and will be sorely missed by many people.

I immediately started rescheduling my week so that I could be in attendance at the wake and the funeral. I didn’t even have to think about it. My reaction was automatic. My friend’s family were also having people at the house after the funeral, so I made sure I could there. When I arrived, I told her I would be wherever she wanted me to be. What I actually said was, “Feel free to boss me around. I am here for whatever you need.” Then I told her to feel free to kick me out when she got sick of having people around. (My friend is an introvert, so I knew she would eventually need her space.)

To me, I was simply doing what you’re supposed to do. When your friend needs you, you show up. What I kept hearing from people though, was what a good friend I am. I thought this a very odd statement. My friend has been there for me countless times, whether it was to make me laugh, or point out when I was being foolish. Even with all the times I was foolish, her thoughts toward me never changed. Why wouldn’t I be there for such a major life event?

I find it funny that we often feel the need to label things as good or bad. Are the people who didn’t show up to the funeral bad friends because they have 9-5 jobs that don’t allow them to change their schedules? Definitely not, they gave what they could.

And this isn’t the first time this topic has come up. Another friend and I were having a chat recently, and she told me what a great friend I was. She said she really appreciated that whenever something was going on with her, I got in my car and drove to see her in person. And if I couldn’t, I called. I laughed and said that was hilarious. I always thought she was the better friend because whenever I felt low she would send me flowers, or a card, or something to cheer me up. We were trying to keep up with one another, forgetting what we brought to the table on our own.

What I have realized is this; it comes down to expectations. We label people as good or bad based on our expectations. If my friend had expected everyone else to be at the funeral as long as I was, she would have been very disappointed. They simply had other responsibilities that just didn’t allow them to take as much time as I could. Again, if I had expected that my other friend to drive to see me when I was down, her gifts would have gone unnoticed and her lack of physical presence would have made me sad. On the flip side, if she had expected gifts, she would have been disappointed with my presence.

We are all doing the best we can with what we have. Labelling something good or bad doesn’t do anything, except set us up for disappointment. So next time you want to categorize something in your life, maybe just allow it to simply be what it is, and watch it change into more than just a classification. Nothing is ever black and white anyway.