All too often, we go through life taking things for granted. Friendships. Family. Material things. Life in general.
I won’t lie. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else.
I thought of this as I was talking to my grandparents on the phone tonight. I took an hour out of my evening of working from home to call and catch up with them. I’m lucky enough to have all five (one pair is divorced and remarried) still alive and kicking, but I don’t get a chance to see them as much as I’d like to. I know they’re always just a phone call away, but it seems like every time I think about calling them it’s 9 or 10pm. With the Central/East Coast time difference, they’re usually in bed so it falls by the wayside and gets put on the back burner. They’re around, they’re all relatively cool, and they’re always only a phone call away. Other people don’t have this luxury, but it’s something I take for granted.
I’m guilty of this with friendships too. They say you come to discover who your true friends are when you move away. So true. You keep in touch with the ones that matter. Some even come visit you. Sometimes you go visit them. Others you completely lose touch with. Sometimes you can even live in the same city as a friend and go from being super close to super distant in a matter of months. Why? Because you take each other for granted.
I’m always one for telling friends, ex-boyfriends, etc. “Oh you’re going to be in town? Don’t bother booking a hotel room. It’s a waste of money. You’re more than welcome to just crash here if you want.” Why? Because other people have done this for me. When I first started coming to Chicago several years ago, one of the guys I used to work with back in the day at A&F offered to let me stay with him. Were we that close of friends? No, but that’s just what friends do. I stayed with him on another trip out then met a guy randomly who would turn out to become one of my best friends to this day. We bonded over a mutual love of vodka, networking, Boystown, and several unmentionable drunken shenanigans that we still to this day laugh about. I started coming to Chicago more regularly knowing that I had an open invitation to crash at his place, spare keys and all.
Because of him, I realized how much money I saved by not having to book a hotel. When I lived in Lincoln, my former bar manager (but more importantly good friend) came to visit for a few days. When he left, knowing fully well that I’d have refused to let him fork over cash for letting him stay at my apartment on my extremely uncomfortable sofa (that has since been ditched), he hid $40 in my bathroom for me to find after he’d left. Totally unnecessary. A simple “thank you” would have sufficed, but whatever. Now that I’m a Chicagoan as well, I extend the same offer to my friends wanting to visit. I’ve even extended offers to let a couple close friends crash with me while visiting, applying for jobs, hitting up trade shows, or even getting their feet on the ground. All I ask for is a simple “thank you” although the ones who you’d expect to receive it from seem to take it for granted. It’s frustrating. Annoying even.
Other times, people (me included) take things in the workplace for granted. From information they share to people they connect you with – professional, personal, whatever the nature is – we often take them for granted too. It’s crazy, I know, but a simple “thank you” goes a long way. There’ve been people who I’ve introduced to other people that have led to job offers that they’d have never known about had that connection gone unmade. Sometimes I get a thank you. Other times I don’t. Again, it’s the people that you’d expect the “thank you” from that you never receive it from.
Am I saying we all need to come clean and start calling everyone to tell them “Sorry I haven’t seen you in a while” or “I just wanted to say thank you for (fill in the blank)”? Not necessarily. For some of us, we’d have to take several days off of life to catch up with everyone and everything that we’ve neglected. In all honesty, it’s probably easiest to just move on and make a conscious effort to be a better friend, a better family member, a better individual in general.
I guess what I’m getting at is that, from here on out, I’m going to stop taking things for granted in life and stop letting others take me for granted as well. All it takes is a simple “thank you” to let someone know you appreciate them and what they do – or have done – for you. So on that note: no more taking shit for granted. It’s annoying so just stop.