“I still remember you as a little girl who overwaters plants because she doesn’t know when to stop giving.” — Trista Mateer
I first read this quote in the midst of going through a close and important friendship ending. I remember crying because I resonated with this so much, yet was also so angry for being the way that I am—for being the girl who keeps on giving.
Ever since I was a little girl, anyone who has met me has at some point mentioned how giving I am. My parents always told me with pride in their eyes how generous I am with others. From a young age, I was taught that being a giver was the best way to be. That being selfless and putting others’ needs above my own was a form of being generous with my love for those around me. However, no one explained to me the heavyweight that comes with carrying this attribute and how rare it is to find others who give the way I do.
Once I entered my early teens and friendships began becoming more solidified, I constantly felt like I was not receiving the generosity that I poured into all of my friendships.
Time and time again I was disappointed and hurt. Why don’t my friends care for me the way I care for them? Why am I constantly giving my time and advice to help those around me, yet when it came to me needing someone, I was alone?
You see, no one ever taught me how important it is to give yet to also make sure you are giving to someone who can see you for who you are. I was taught that “you give to give, not to receive” and “if you give something, don’t expect it returned to you.” But you see, that idea on its own is incorrect. Of course—give without constraints and give with all that you have in you, but only if you believe that the person you are giving your busy time and energy to will be able to appreciate what you are doing for them in some way. Do not hand out your giving nature freely. It is not a free ticket for people to think you are so nice and giving that they can walk all over you and take advantage of just how much you are willing to give them in order to make them happy.
Perhaps one of my biggest lessons from being a girl who keeps on giving is that you need to learn when to give. Get to know someone’s intentions before suddenly allowing them access to the most amazing part of you. Learn about your new friend for however long it takes prior to giving and giving and giving. Giving endless advice to them, being their support system, giving them a second home and a chance to be a part of your family. Just wait and see. Observe them and allow your friendship to progress slowly. As a giver, it is very easy to want to jump into things. Whether it be creating new friendships or falling in love quickly. And that is because you see the best parts of someone that sometimes they do not even see in themselves. You see their potential in a way that you believe will be shown to you because you are so open and vulnerable to them.
If you become friends with someone and after some time you realize that they do not have this giving trait, you must learn to either accept it and continue to want to give to them because it is who you are or you must create boundaries in that relationship to avoid yourself being disappointed and hurt. Because in my experience, if you let someone stay in your life with no boundaries who has seen you give and give and give to them, they will begin to take advantage of your caring. They will begin to treat you as if they know you will always be there for them, no matter what they do to hurt you. Even if they are the best people in the world. Being too giving sometimes allows people to mistake your kindness for a chance to take advantage of you. And that has been the hardest thing for me to learn how to do—create boundaries. By creating boundaries I have learned that with each friendship I give different parts of myself depending on how capable that person specifically is to giving and to receiving my kindness.
Being the girl known for giving is a beautiful thing when you learn how to balance it out in a way that is fair to your own heart. Being selfish with where you pour your giving and loving heart out is important, contrary to what we’ve been taught. Learning about how to create boundaries for each friendship you embark on is a way to help you fully embrace being the giving person you are.
So I’ve learned that being this girl and being known for being giving is so many wonderful things, as long as you know how to share it properly. As much as you want to see the good in every single person you meet, not everyone is deserving of your giving nature. Acknowledge this and allow yourself to grow. Be proud of yourself for embracing this delicate feature that you are blessed to carry and allow it to be your biggest strength rather than allowing others to treat it like it is your weakness.
I recently randomly came across this quote a few years after first reading it and remembered the place I was in the first time I read it. I remember feeling a strong sense of pride in myself. This time I was also crying, yet it was because I was so proud of myself for being the way that I am—the girl who keeps on giving time and time again.