My son loves the story of the Rainbow Fish. It’s a little story about how you need to share in order to have friends, enforcing that you give what you have to be happy rather than taking. That part is all well and good, but in all truth—I HATE THAT STORY. The premise of the story is about a fish that has these beautiful scales and everyone wants them but he doesn’t want to give them up. He gets advice from another sea creature and ends up giving away his own scales in order to have friends and the story ends with him being happier even though he only had one scale left but he had all of these friends.
I look at the greater implication. The story depicts this fish giving away parts of his BODY in order to make other fish feel better and to gain their friendship. It is so disturbing to me. This is how we are trained in society: having a big group of friends is so important that you do anything for them even if it means sacrificing yourself. We need to stop indoctrinating people with this lesson.
Friendship, socialization, collaboration, and sharing are absolutely key tenants to healthy functioning. And yes, being social and having friends requires a certain give and take. But any “friend” that requires you give up so much of yourself that you’re depleted or lost for the sake of making them feel or look better is not a friend. FORGET THAT NONSENSE.
Friendship isn’t about demanding parts of people to make you whole—no relationship is about that. It’s a give and take. So when you’re starting out on a new chapter of your life, it is ok to cut out those people who demand too much or demand what you can’t give. It is NOT selfish to preserve pieces of yourself for yourself and for the things that matter to you. It is necessary. As we talk about goal setting, make it a priority to make sure you’re surrounded by people who actually care and want to see you succeed. And make it a priority to take back your time from those who expect you to serve. This world isn’t black and white—it’s a whole rainbow, a spectrum of priorities and feelings and needs and wants and there is room for it all. We don’t have to live as if one person gets to shine and you have to live in the shadow. We may shine at different times and in different ways, but NEVER give that light away. Share it, help people light their own way, but don’t ever diminish who you are for the sake of someone else. Keep that with you as you decide who you are.