People like reliable people. This makes a lot of sense. People also generally like to be thought of as reliable. This also makes sense. But, is it possible to be too reliable?
I’ve had a lot of difficulty saying no to people, and this has resulted in people thinking of me as very reliable. Good, right? Well, actually no. Because I agreed to many things I didn’t actually want to do, people expect me to do more of those things in the future. This causes a number of problems, obviously, because I don’t want to keep on doing things I don’t want to do, and also because some people are actually total jerks when they think of me as reliable.
Like, there’s this thing called Google, but they’ll ask me the simplest of things that would take them literally 5 seconds to Google. So, I’d Google it for them and tell them the answer. Because I’m reliable. Yeah. And that’s just what reliable people do, right?
At some point I realized that I don’t actually enjoy being so reliable. My attention and energy is not up to the random whims of whoever needs some random thing done that they think is urgent but really probably isn’t.
I’ve slowly gotten better at becoming unreliable. This is similar to saying no to people, but it’s more indirect. It’s more like stalling. Like instead of saying no, saying something like “I’ll think about it and get back to you”. Or not responding to text messages immediately. Or for days. Or weeks. Or maybe just uninstalling the damn messaging app entirely.
I don’t want to be someone’s first choice whenever they have a problem. That’s not good for me (obviously because it saps my energy that I could be using for other things), and it’s not really great for them either – they don’t learn how to solve their own problems. Especially for really dumb problems, or even problems they caused for themselves. Have you ever noticed people causing their own problems and then asking other people for solutions? I used to be surrounded by people who do that. Maybe my inability to say no resulted in me having some really shitty friends.
Don’t get me wrong, being reliable in general isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the right circumstances, and for the right people, I absolutely want to be as reliable as possible. But that’s really rare. Being reliable for every random dimwit who will take advantage of it, is just a waste of my energy. And I sure as hell do not have infinite energy.