My debt to pay: A lesson in accountability

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Anyone who mildly knows me probably knows that I love Taylor Swift with all my heart, mind and soul. So naturally, when she released her latest promo single, “The Archer,” I immediately went to my room, put in my headphones and took a deep breath.

In the song, she sings “And I cut off my nose just to spite my face/Then hate my reflection for years and years.”

Admittedly, I had never heard that expression before, so I Googled. Basically, Google/Wikipedia says it’s “an expression to describe a needlessly self-destructive over-reaction to a problem.”

Wow. That’s me.

Now, this post isn’t really meant to talk about overreacting to stuff. Have I done that? Yeah, I think everyone has. But, in one instance, it snowballed into a situation I feel bad about years later.

I think there are times when we hurt people and we know it immediately. We pour out tear-soaked apologies, and we feel instant pangs of guilt for hours, or days, or more. We know, either because it was obvious or the person told us, that we were wrong and hurtful.

But, I think there are also times when we don’t realize immediately that we hurt someone. In fact, there are times when we don’t believe we did anything wrong or even that the person deserved it. To reference another Taylor song, we think “look what you made me do.”

This happened to me recently. Something had continued to bother me years later, and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just forget about it. And then it hit me. I owed someone an apology.

At the time it happened, I didn’t think anything of it. But now, as I practice more empathy, I have a new perspective – even if the person never told me they felt hurt. And again, taking cues from Taylor Swift’s public moves and seeing her reconcile with Katy Perry (yes, I know I’m insane), I reached out one last time to this former friend with a long, deep, sincere apology. I didn’t ask for forgiveness. I didn’t ask to be friends again. I just made it clear I was sorry, and that apology should’ve arrived much sooner.

One lesson I’ve learned, especially since starting my current full-time job, is that accountability is essential to growth. It makes you stronger. It makes you be honest with yourself. And, people respect you for it. Learning to not blame others and instead take responsibility for your actions is key to growing up.

I chose the elevator photo for this post because it symbolizes to me a sense of moving up and on – and taking the high road.

And even if that friend never replies to my message, at least I can move on and forgive myself, because I finally admitted I was wrong.

I think this applies to all situations – family, friends, work, even interactions with strangers. Being willing to take a step back, look at things through an objective lens and muster up the strength to say “I’m sorry” will go a long way.

It might not repair a friendship or a relationship. But it could provide a chance.

XO,

Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

 

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