The Troubles of the Giver

I identify as being a Giver. I am always looking  to be helpful for the people I care about most. I am willing to go above and beyond for them. I plan celebrations, attend events, and offer to make myself available when needed among other things. What may sound like just being a good partner, friend, parent, or tooting my own horn, actually comes as a double edged sword for myself. Whether it is an insecurity or a disappointment in others, as my CBT therapist suggests, being a Giver often can make me feel alone or unwanted and it is even more heightened by my severe anxiety. 

I’ll take a moment to elaborate on birthdays because I love them. I’m the first to bring them up to get a plan together because I want to plan for friends or family. Maybe it will be a party, or a trip, or a nice dinner out but I want to plan something to make that person feel special for their birthday. That unfortunately is rarely reciprocated. As a Giver I don’t expect things to be matched tit for tat because I can’t assume everyone in my life is a Giver like myself. This does however begin to take a toll and it begins to get harder and harder to want to give to those people. Planning a big night out in the city with a hotel stay or an all expense paid trip to Disneyland is hard to keep doing when you only receive a text message or a social media post. 

The same goes for celebrations other than birthdays. When it comes to new jobs, promotions, engagements, any personal accomplishments I want to celebrate! You deserve to be acknowledged for a life change or achievement. But after so many celebrations I begin downplay my own success or neglect to share them at all because I know if I want to celebrate, I’ll have to depend on myself. Even with my birthday. I have to be my own cheerleader which in turn makes me feel even smaller and less worthy. Comparatively(and perhaps my own downplaying) what I’m doing is not as exciting or celebration worthy but certainly worth the bare minimum of support. 

This too takes a toll in making myself available. Perhaps there’s a break up; even when I lived almost an hour away from most friends and family I was getting in the car and driving so they had someone in their corner. If someone is moving and might need assistance I am definitely going to offer to help in some way. Whether good or bad I’m the first to ask “do you want me to come over?” “can I come over?” or “do you want to come over?”. With me however I’ve passed the point of sharing. It doesn’t matter if it’s good news or bad. The only time it’s coming out of me is if I go past two drinks. And even then I’ll find some way to downplay or laugh it off. I do this because I know otherwise the only message I’m getting back is a generic “I’m available if you need something” with no followthrough or check up. 

Which brings me to probably my least favorite part about being a Giver; The Check-In. Like birthdays or anything else I make a point to reach out for even the small things. If someone complains about a coworker, has a new doctor or medication, a big assignment due, or has the first day at that new job, I’m there checking in to see how it went or how it is going. Did you recently move? I want to know how you’re liking that new place. Tell me if there are ghosts! Pregnant? I want all the deets! Especially with things I can empathize with. No, we don’t(to my knowledge) have ghosts in our house but anything else I can pretty much have a conversation about. 

I want to say we all have the Giver friend but that would probably almost always be inaccurate. If you are saying no, I don’t have that person you might be the Giver so evaluate that. Most Givers don’t have Giver friends. I however am extremely lucky to have found a friend that in some ways can reciprocate. That friend that is always texting, pumping up my IG account, making time for me and I reciprocate as well. We may not be exactly the same but we are doing our best. 

If this post finds you agreeing with most of what I’ve said you are probably a Giver. And if you find yourself making excuses for the examples you could be categorized as a Taker. Maybe think about the Giver in your life. When’s the last time you went out to celebrate their accomplishment big or small? Have you done anything to make them feel special? It might be hard for us to realize this is even happening. It is kind of like realizing as an adult that when you were a kid your parents paid for everything. You probably didn’t have that train of thought as a seven year old at Disneyland but know that it is your money being spent its a whole lot different. Does that make sense(she says as she continues to downplay). 

Whenever I come to the end of a post I begin to start making myself sound preachy which is not my intention. Recipes and crafts can end with a simple “Enjoy!” or “Have fun!” Maybe I need a sign off paragraph or catchphrase to wrap it up. My point however with this was just to bring attention to the unsung heroes of friendships and family. The ones that go above and beyond do the things they do because they generally want to but I want my daughter to use the toilet however I don’t want the hassle of potty training. There’s the difference. And this is not to say that others are bad friends or family or whatever but that maybe they can show a little more acknowledgment towards others. We can’t force people to love like we do but we can find people that mutually respect each other.

Be kind.

Julia