Almost any success that I’ve had in my life has grown from helping other people. Adding value to other’s lives has rewarded me in my own.
Unfortunately, some people don’t want to be helped. Get too entangled and they’ll drag you down with them. This is the sad story of my first close friend.
He transfered into my school in the third grade, moving with his mom after his parents divorced. He had a broken home life and struggled at school, but as two geeky kids, we immediately became friends.
In middle school I was put into the advanced class, while he stayed in general population. He continued to struggle, but we stayed close. We hung out at the arcade, played Magic the Gathering and talked Final Fantasy strategy.
We went to different High Schools and started to grow apart. I stuck to the nerdy things, while he started to experiment with nastier substances, eventually dropping out of school. I tried to talk sense into him, but he wouldn’t listen.
A few years later his mom lost her apartment and he wound up on the street. It was heartbreaking and I tried to help with what little I had. As we grew up, he started to decay into a shell of himself. He would vanish for months at a time, then randomly call me. I’d take him to dinner to catch up, and then he would vanish again.
This continued for years, with me offering help each time, and him either refusing or flaking. Every interaction was more depressing, and eventually he completely vanished.
He’ll call me again one day, and I’ll probably take him out and offer to help him find living quarters or a job, and he’ll likely turn me down.
Years later, I’m finally starting to realize that people need to be allowed to live their lives and make their mistakes. No matter how important they are to you, you can’t force them to care about themselves. Until they choose to help themselves, there’s no amount of kindness or money that will fix them.
I was having a conversation with a friend about this topic, and he said, “sometimes you just have to let people live their lives.”