I got some good advice recently. Like most good advice, it’s deceptively simple. Also like most good advice, it’s really hard to put into practice.
“You’re allowed to disappoint people.”
“Sure,” I chuckled. “I do it all the time.”
“No, really. You’re allowed to disappoint people.”
It wasn’t exactly like when Robin Williams told Matt Damon “It’s not your fault,” but it was similarly the kind of thing I needed to hear multiple times from someone outside my own head for it to sink in.
The hardest part is that it flies in the face of other timeworn platitudes like “make a good impression” and “hold up your end of the bargain.” Platitudes that have been drilled so far into our psyches that minor failings feel like moral failings.
Some other advice I got recently was that everyone is allowed to have a reaction, and usually, that reaction says more about them than it does about you or what you’ve done. That’s not to say anyone should go through life recklessly and expect a clear conscience, but if you’ve walked through the possible outcomes, taken other people into consideration, and ultimately followed the path that’s best for you, then you’ve done all that’s in your control.
And one thing that’s not is how other people are going to feel. But if your relationship is worth it, you’ll move past it. And you’ll disappoint each other again. And you’ll look back one day with rose-colored glasses and wonder what all the fuss was about.