This is a concept I’ve wanted to write for a while now, but have kept putting off and forgetting about. I was reminded of it the other day while having lunch next to a table with two girls talking about their recent breakups. Yes I was eavesdropping. Heavily.
One girl had obviously just gotten divorced and was telling her friend about some resulting confusion, and her friend had also just broken up with a long term boyfriend and was in the same kind of situation. Their conundrum was that in every relationship they’d been in, one party had done something wrong, enough to kill the relationship and cause those involved to never want to see each other again. Painful, but fairly straight forward. However in both of these girls recent relationships nothing had caused a major fracture. Rather, they had just grown slowly apart and both had realized it and decided, like rational adults, that rather than stay together in a relationship neither one of them was happy with that they should end it, and give each other the opportunity to be happy elsewhere.
The resulting confusion was they didn’t know how to treat the other person when they ran into them in the future. Painful break up exes were easy, they’d mutually snub each other and go about their business but given that they had no lingering hard feelings for these recent exes, and likewise the exes didn’t hold any ill will towards them, what the hell were they supposed to do? But this isn’t only a relationship conundrum, and I know plenty of people (myself included) who have the same kind of questions and confusion come up in regards to business in one way or another. I think at it’s core, the bits and pieces of whatever the previous situation were don’t really matter anymore, it’s all about being OK with something coming to an end.
Some people simply do not like endings. The thinking goes if something ends, it’s because something went wrong, and if something went wrong it’s because someone else screwed up so therefor the other people who were involved must be at fault for that thing ending and therefore they suck and must always be hated. That’s easy, it gives a clear scapegoat, places the blame clearly off you so you remain flawless in the eyes of friends, family and coworkers, and lets you move on to something else with a clean slate. But I think some of those assumptions aren’t always the best way to handle things. Let’s look at the pieces a little more closely.
If something ends, is it really because something went wrong?
Sometimes it is, no question about it. But not always, and I think this comes from the assumption that something has to keep getting better for it to continue. And for some people it does, but some people are content with reaching a certain comfortable level and then hanging out there for a while assuming things are working, people are happy, why fuck with it? Again this relates to relationships just as much as business I think. Not everyone wants to have a Forbes 500 company, many people are happy with a company that is profitable and lets them live the life they are comfortable with. Not everyone needs to buy a Porche. So maybe it’s not that something went wrong as much as it is the people or parties involved having different opinions of what that comfort level is. Some people might be comfortable and some people want to keep reaching for that next level. That doesn’t mean something has gone wrong so much as it means those groups have done everything they can at that point. Maybe both are comfortable, but want someone to push them to try to reach that next level and realize that isn’t going to happen when everyone involved is content. If people were happy before a relationship ends, and they are happy (or happier) after a relationship ends did something really go wrong? Sounds to me more like something went right.
If something does go wrong, does it mean someone screwed up?
Again it can, but it doesn’t always. In business something going wrong could mean that a competitor simply did something better, or had better connections. That doesn’t mean your team screwed up, they may have tried as hard as they could, but that just wasn’t enough. And if you are lucky you learned a lot that will give you a leg up on the competition next time around. In a relationship, maybe the people simple grew apart over time. That’s not a mistake or a screw up, people evolve and if we’re lucky we get to share bits of our lives with people who are important to us at different times. It’s not bad that they didn’t grow in the same direction, it’s awesome their individual trajectories were able to overlap for as long as they were. Again, if you really want to you turn this into a bad thing that’s your choice, but it’s just as easily a good things. Depends on how much of a poopy pants bummer you want to be.
So lets say it is because someone screwed up, is it always really someone else?
No. I don’t even have to concede on this one. We all like to think we did what we were supposed to and someone else came in and wrecked our shit, but more likely we had just as much a hand in it as they did. Either because we actively screwed up (and don’t want to admit it and thus blame someone else) or because we misjudged someone and relied on them when we shouldn’t have. Even if someone else screws up, if it effects us chances are our laps in judgment is to blame. Maybe we knew they’d screw up but wanted to give them a second chance, or maybe they talked a good game and we just bought it. Either way, if we were on top of things we probably should have known better and gotten that person out before they took us down with them. So their mistake is our mistake too.
So we should still hate them right?
Hell no. This one took me a while to wrap my head around to be honest. I used to be proud about how long I could hold a grudge and I’m sure there’s people out there I swore I’d never talk to again that I have no idea why I once felt such ill will towards them. Of course there are some I remember perfectly clearly as well, but that is kind of my point with this. The ones I remember, that I know exactly how they screwed me over, messed up, ruined something I tried hard to build, misled me, broke my heart, or whatever it was, knowing what I know know I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing. It’s all of that that made me who I am today, and taking out random pieces would effect that in ways I don’t know and don’t want to know. And I know that they were all for the best. I didn’t really need to be in business with those people any longer than I was, and it would have gotten ugly for everyone if those relationships had gone on any longer (or actually existed outside of my head) and I know that now. It’s the benefit of hindsight.
So knowing that, when something doesn’t work out now the way I had hoped it would and there are other people involved I have to trust it’s for the best and I’ll be happier in the end taking a path I just didn’t know I was going to be taking before. And I know those other people helped me find that path, so sometimes even though going through it is rough and even painful, it gets better. It has every time. The sun rose today, and will again tomorrow. I can’t be mad at anyone who helped me figure that out.
So that’s my rationale and it’s been on my head a lot recently. Probably because while digging up stories of days gone by for my next book I’m remembering and thinking about people and events I haven’t in years. We’re also at a bit of a crossroads with Metblogs in that it’s been around for 6 year now, it runs itself to some extent and generally pays it’s own bills (or a little less during months when the economy is taking a massive shit) but we’re asking ourselves what we can really do with the resources we have, and is that enough? I certainly have no intention of ending Metblogs, but something needs to change, either we need to partner with someone who has more resources that we can utilize or we need to slide out of the drivers seat and see if someone else can find a path we somehow missed. But it’s a change, which means to some extent one role is coming to an end, but it’s really more of the beginning of something new.
I know I’ve resisted ends in many times in my life, and without fail they all ended regardless and in the wake of that ending I realized those ends should have come sooner. I guess my point, or my philosophy in all of this is that when you die that is really an end, but until then lots of things end but they make way for new things to begin. New things that wouldn’t have been possible with out the old things happening, running their course and ending. One kind of business ending to make way for a new one is good. One relationship ending to allow for another to bloom is good. So to the girls in the start of this, their problem is overthinking it and trying to put a good situation into the constraints of a bad one and it won’t fit. If you don’t have any ill feelings for that person, and at one point in your life that person was really important to you, then leave it at that, there really isn’t any reason you can’t still be friends. Just because you moved out of the house doesn’t mean you need to set it on fire behind you.