Generosity / Acceptance

So, I grew up in a household where we were raised to be independent – I got a job around the age of 14, and if I wanted something, I’d save up and get it.

There are definitely things I’ve been helped with. My parents have provided for me financially and given me incredible opportunities, like the chance to go to private school and one of the best colleges in the country. And I’m definitely grateful for that.

But other than the things that were deemed a necessity, I was never really okay with people just giving me things. Hell, I had a hard time letting my dates buy me dinner (even when I was super broke and couldn’t justify buying dinner for myself, so I’d feel guilty for going out, but I’d have felt guilty for letting someone pay…it was a whole thing).

And now, I’m living with a super generous family who just want to give. And give, and give, and give. And it’s really hard for me to just shut up and say “yes!” I even started out buying my own groceries (which I could hardly afford, seeing as I haven’t worked in six weeks now), even though L’s mom offered to buy them instead.

I’ve finally started to let her buy the groceries, and offer to pay for meals and the like. After a long conversation with L, we’ve even accepted a much more generous offer.

Now, we’re not sure how feasible this all is (we’ve been running to town hall, a lot), but L’s family has offered to build an addition onto their house, just for us. Basically, they would be providing us with a permanent apartment. No rent, ever. There’s still this tiny stubborn Devil on my shoulder saying “People can’t buy you THINGS!” but I’m doing a pretty good job of ignoring them, I think. I mean, this is the best offer anyone has made me in a long time, if not ever. Here, have a place to live!

I think I just need a new mindset. I’ve always tried to be generous to others (but I really don’t want to get into it, because I find horn-tooting kinda gross), but I never thought that others could be generous to me! That would just make me selfish, right? But then I started thinking about how most people feel good when they do something good. And I thought of how this could positively affect L’s family; they’re definitely a tight-knit bunch. They only made us this offer when we explained that while it’s very nice of them to let us stay at their house, we need our own space and don’t want to stay there forever.

L’s mom was very sad that we don’t want to stay there forever.

So, I guess this is her way of saying, “everyone can get what they want,” and I’m okay with that. I am working on remembering that accepting generosity from others doesn’t somehow make me a terrible person, and I wish that I hadn’t thought that for so many years of my life. I think a lot of us are like that; we want to give, but God forbid we take! We can’t take! Taking is for other people! This mindset is so flawed. No one human can just give and give with nothing in return, and I don’t think it makes me an awful person to admit that.

If you too have trouble accepting generosity, just remember this: you’re as human as everyone else. If it’s okay for them to take what you give, it’s okay for you to take what they give. Think of how many occasions you got mad at someone for accepting your generosity. Hopefully, too many don’t come to mind (and if they do, you might have some serious leeches in your life). But anyway, as long as you’re not thinking of one person who takes and takes to the point that you’re uncomfortable, you’re probably thinking of perfectly healthy interactions. And it is completely okay to be at the other end of those interactions.

Of course, be mindful, and never try to take more than you give. Don’t stop giving, don’t stop providing for others. Those are wonderful things to do. But it can be wonderful to let others treat you well, and let others provide for you.

As I type these words, they’re actually helping me quite a lot (like a lot of my writing, this is an unedited stream of conscience so it might meander a bit). Be generous, but also be accepting.

-Finn

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