Months ago, I wrote a post I titled “Broken Promises and Castles Built On Air,” although I put off posting it until recently. I focused on my desire to not be the person constantly making fantastic plans without following through, but how I approached others’ promises stayed the same. That might change now.
I posted earlier about my worries regarding my name change court date, particularly my worry that my friend wouldn’t show up to support me. It was irrational and absolutely not reflective of my friend, but I’ve somehow trained myself to not truly believe it when someone gets really excited about something I’m doing and promises they’ll be there (other than my parents, but they’re different). If I don’t expect them to be there, maybe it won’t hurt quite as much when they don’t show up.
When I was younger, I thought that a particular person I loved and admired was going to be at a show I was in. Looking back, I don’t remember whether they actually promised they would be there — whether they actually said the words, “I’ll be there” — but they made plans and sounded excited about it, and I believed they would be there. After having been in numerous shows that they never attended, I thought that this time might be different.
When they just didn’t show up, I was devastated. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t give them the chance to hurt me like that again, even as I knew that hurting me wasn’t their intention. I felt like such a fool for actually believing that they would be there. Much later, I discovered that they’d had a good excuse for not being there, but by then, I was trying to pretend I didn’t care about them (it’s much harder to be hurt by the actions of someone about whom you don’t care), and I decided that the least they could have done was sent me an email and let me know they wouldn’t be there. Looking back, my reaction was utterly emotional, disproportionate to what happened, and unfair to the person in question. At the time, though, all I knew was that my hero was the reason I was fighting back tears on a night when nothing should have been able to shake my joy in our show.
Since then, the only people I’ve really trusted to keep their word about attending something I’ve been a part of (be it theatre, a cappella, graduation, or something else) have been my parents: they’ve never let me down on that front (a quick mental count indicates 45 shows and three banquets that my parents have attended, and that’s just high school theatre). And so, a small part of me kept whispering that my friend wasn’t going to be at my court date — that something was going to keep him from being there. Again, not because I think that he’s like that first person, not because I think he would just ignore that he said he’d be there, not because I think he would ever just ditch something he knew was important to me because he didn’t feel like going — I just have learned to be sceptical of promises and wanting something too much.
And yet, when my court date came time, my friend was there. He was there, and he was supportive and thrilled for me and everything I could have wished for. As he rounded the corner, I was so relieved and happy . . . and a part of me was utterly taken back. I had somehow truly internalized a message that I shouldn’t count on things happening the way I expect and wish them to happen. But he showed up, as though there was never any doubt that he would be there, and that little voice telling me not to get my hopes up was shown to be completely wrong. Even though, in retrospect, that he showed up at my court date may not have been significant to the world, it was hugely momentous to me, and it’s helped me to start believing in people again.
It’s helped me to begin believing that people will be there for me when they say they will be. He’s helped me to believe that something I’m doing is worth people taking the time out of their busy schedules, that supporting me is something people might want to do and not just feel obligated to do. He’s helped me to believe that I am important enough for people to spend valuable time on. He has changed my world, in so many ways.