I had recently bought a house, a development, some few months back. The house was finally ready last Saturday. The handover specialist (I don’t know if that’s what he’s called but we’ll go with it) called me a few days before to let me know what I would need and when I would need to get everything ready. Immediately after finding that out, I got home and told my younger brothers. My brothers are twenty and sixteen years old, pretty young, typical ‘likers of things’ in life. I told them they need to organise things for the house for me.
Firstly, the house is currently unoccupied and the area of the development is such that you would have to basically put in your own wall fence and gates and so on.
I told them they need to find a builder for the wall, go get quotations for building materials, put in burglar bars in at the doors and windows, organise curtains, find garage doors and lastly find out who is willing to stay in the house in the meantime before we are ready for what we want to do with it.
I couldn’t do anything during the week because my day job is just too hectic lately (or everyday) and my all-round PA/ secretary/ accountant AKA my mom wasn’t in the country to help me get anything done. I convinced myself that the boys would fail at the task at hand. Saturday came and the 20 year old slept at varsity, typical Friday varsity stunts. I was so upset at him for not taking my instructions to head when he knew everything needed to be done on that day.
I left for driving lessons early that morning. And as me and the driving instructor were leaving, I saw him take his little white car out as we drove off. I let out a sigh and gave up. Nothing would be done that Saturday, I thought.
2 hours later, I got back from my lessons to find just genuine running around with the two boys. They’d found a builder, gotten quotations for all things required and someone was already putting in burglar bars at the house. There was a van out and it was about to carry out their entire bedroom and a couch so that the two of them and their one best friend could go live in the house in the meantime (after consulting with my PA apparently.) They worked all the way to 10pm to get everything done.
I was so overwhelmed and soaking in all these fuzzy feelings for them. They pulled through for me and made everything happen.
I took a moment to think of how they sacrificed their weekend and worked on the house as though they had an obligation to, when they really didn’t have to. That is something that I’d been failing to see for the longest time. I always used to think that people had to do things for me because of whatever I was to them. That’s what one should remember about many of the wonderful things people do for us, they really don’t have to. They have no obligation whatsoever to help us. Just because my brothers are my brothers does not mean they has to sacrifice their weekends or time for my purpose. They have their own stresses as well, their own problems that bother them. They have school, their social lives, money and other related problems they have to deal with on a daily basis.
I take for granted that my siblings are young and have so many of their own issues to deal with. I don’t know whether it’s because I had convinced them that my problems are more important or that they had just been kind-hearted enough to focus on my stuff first. I had no right to be pissed at him the Friday he slept at university because that is his time with his friends. He really didn’t have to focus on my complaints and my house problems.
Once you’ve been living a life of selfishness or pure ignorance for the longest time or most of the time, just so blinded by your own problems, you forget to see how much it takes for other people to give up their time. Look at how much we complain when people use up our time, the same applies to others as well.
I think of the 16 year old. He should be worrying about the shoes he’s wearing and whine about where he wants to go and what he wants to do with his friends. On most days, he is strong and doesn’t really need any support but recently, he said to me, ‘I’m seeing fires in physics and I know you say you’re going through the most, but I’m also going through the most as well and I don’t know what to do.’ I had to break out and see that my always focusing on my problems doesn’t make any of his go away. I only had mine to deal with while he had both of ours. I had to remember to give him support a bit more often, because the truth of the matter is that, his problems are not any less important than my own. Problems are problems. Just because mine are that of buying a house doesn’t put them above those of him struggling with physics.
How to stop being ungrateful? Remember that no one has an obligation to do anything good for you. I promise you, it’s not because they don’t have their own challenges and tasks to deal with. It’s easy to forget that, being consumed by one’s own problems. Don’t disregard the bit we get from the people who give us even five minutes of their time to worry about our problems, share our stresses and give us advice or find some way to help solve our problems.
Be grateful. No one is obligated to be nice, kind and helpful towards you. Everyone has so much to deal with that that on its own would take up all their entire time. So when you find anyone who has time to check up on you and asks ‘how’s it going?’ or is willing to share some of theirs with you. Don’t take it for granted.