I have a history of people exploiting my occasionally
generous nature. At work, I used to buy tins of sweets
and walk around handing them out. Most people concluded I was being
nice, but after a while people started asking me to buy them sweets -
thus missing the point of why I was giving them out in the first place
(because I love my workmates and want to show my appreciation with mint
At one point, my boss (and
pseudo-mentor) told me to stop being so generous all the time,
especially when said generosity was being exploited. Since then, I've
tried to step back during a situation where my impulse is to help
someone unconditionally, and ask myself why I'm doing it. Sometimes I
catch myself wanting people to think of me as generous, which to me is
a bad motivation for helping people, even
if at some level it's present every time we do something for someone
else. Most of the time, however, it's because I genuinely care about
the person I'm helping, and want to ease their pain, or regain something lost, or whatever.
The new drummer in my
band, who I've known for around a week and a half, but who I already
get on well with, has lost her phone - she thinks she left it at the
place in town we go to practice. My first impulse was to ask her what
it looked like, then phone this place and ask if they'd had anything
handed in - but I stopped short of doing this, and started worrying.
For reasons I don't really understand, doing this seems to make people
think I'm some kind of suck-up, or I'm overeager to help someone I
don't know very well. My mind always goes back to what my boss said -
essentially, stop helping people so much.
I'm not a very
charitable person most of the time, not to strangers. But at some
point after I've started talking to someone, perhaps after we've
exchanged numbers or whatever, something clicks, and in my
mind that person has suddenly gone from stranger to friend. At that
point, I'm willing to do stuff for them, stuff like help them get their
lost phone back, and I'm not sure why
that's considered a bad thing. It's not as if I'm going to do
something stupid like lend someone I'd just met a wad of cash - just
something like a phone call, or a shoulder to cry on.
So...er...am I meant to be generous or not?