“A mathematical formula for happiness: reality divided by expectation. There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality or lower your expectations.”
-Jodi Picoult, author

“Never lower your expectations. Never settle for less than exactly what you want.”
-Tina Alberino, blogger and truly stubborn bitch

I’m a very different person than I was ten years ago. I think your late-20’s is the time when you really figure out who you are. Your vision of how you want your life to be begins to fully materialize and you’re finally at an age where you can take progressive steps to make that vision a reality.

Unfortunately, not everyone matures at the same rate. Some people don’t seem to mature at all. In itself, this can be mildly irritating if you’re somehow forced to be exposed to it regularly. It can be infuriating if “those people” feel the need to sabotage your own life to pull you down with them.

I’ve always been a forthright, honest person–and not necessarily by choice. It’s my nature. I’ve had people question whether or not my blunt honesty were a psychological disability or social functioning impairment, but I’m pretty sure it’s the result of several biological factors combined with the way I chose to interpret and respond to my experiences over the course of my lifetime.

I’m different, not broken. That makes me special, not socially handicapped.

I am set in my ways. I have high expectations of myself and hold others to high expectations as well. I spent a vast portion of my childhood and eight years of my early adulthood compromising those expectations for others. They were the worst years of my life.

Throughout the experience, I thought I was doing the right thing. I told myself that my integrity and loyalty were admirable qualities and although I was miserable and could feel myself slowly growing colder, more reserved, caustically cynical, resentful, and bitter–I took comfort in the fact that I was making sacrifices that would surely be recognized and appreciated at some point in the future.

They weren’t.

Each transgression against me cut two ways–I hated the person for doing it and I hated myself for allowing it. Eventually, my skin thickened into dense scar tissue and the transgressions no longer hurt. I quit caring. I retreated further into myself deeper than ever before and I stayed there.

I learned a lot about myself and a lot about sacrifice and loyalty–specifically, how freely granting unearned loyalty and making repeated sacrifices for someone who didn’t deserve or appreciate them can destroy you a little bit at a time. I also learned a lot about happiness and how selfishness can be an extremely positive quality. I learned never to gamble my happiness on a potential payout that may never come.

I was young and stupid with a distorted view of what the word “loyalty” really meant. At that time, loyalty was defined as: “n. To constantly strive and sacrifice to secure another person’s happiness and approval without expectation of gratitude or reciprocation and to take abuse indefinitely without complaint.”

I’m a better person now. I’m a harder person, but definitely a better one. The only regret I have is that it took me so long to learn these lessons.

Aside from those two isolated incidents, I have never had problems eliminating people entirely from my life–permanently. I don’t form sentimental attachments to anything and that includes people. One of my personal shortcomings (according to others) is that it doesn’t take much at all for me to write someone off for good. Personally, I do not see this as a shortcoming. Adults cannot be genuinely sorry for a trespass committed knowingly against another person. If you did something with the knowledge that what you were doing was going to hurt someone else, you can’t claim to be “sorry” for it after the fact.

Genuine remorse cannot follow premeditation. At some point, you weighed the risks against the benefits and chose to move forward. If you didn’t weigh the consequences against the benefits, you’re either too inconsiderate or too stupid for me to have associated with in the first place. Don’t insult my intelligence by delivering false apologies. You aren’t sorry you did whatever you did–you’re sorry you have to suffer some sort of consequence for it.

I see everything in formulas. That’s how my brain has always worked. It doesn’t take a lot for me to calculate that some people just don’t fit into the equation that determines overall positive, meaningful contribution to my life. If their variable in that equation results in a negative, neutral, or negligible result–they go. Forever. Bye bye. No great loss. Sorry, not sorry.

I feel no remorse. I have no regrets. Neither should you.

You don’t owe anyone anything–least of all your forgiveness. You don’t owe them your time or energy. You aren’t required to participate in their mind games or allow them to attempt to manipulate you. You can and should just walk away. Close that door and forget they existed–because from this point forward, they don’t exist and you’re better for it.

Until someone proves to me otherwise, I operate under the assumption that this life is the only one we have. As far as I know, when it is over it is over forever. Those with religious inclinations disagree, and that is fine, but there is no reason why you should allow others to attempt to sabotage your happiness for any period of time, whether you believe that death is the permanent end or a second beginning (or third, fourth, or fifth beginning–for those that believe in reincarnation). My theistic friends have often asked, “What if you’re wrong?” I ask, “What if I’m right? Do you want to spend any portion of the life you know you have as a victim of others who have no respect for your happiness? I don’t. Your religion shouldn’t factor in to your Happiness Equation when evaluating whether or not someone fits into your current existence.”

Ask yourself: “If this life is the only one I will ever have and each second is ticking closer to the hour of my death, do I really want to spend any portion of my precious time dealing with this person in any capacity?” The answer will always be no. If the person were truly contributing to your life in a meaningful way, you wouldn’t feel the need to question their presence in the first place.

In the Happiness Equation, negative variables tend to come with hidden exponents. You might be able to see that this person is a problem, but you’re unlikely to be seeing the various ways they’re negatively impacting your life until that person has been removed from it entirely. With each subtraction I have made, my overall satisfaction with my life has increased exponentially. If your life isn’t continually trending upward, you need to be making changes. Sometimes, there just isn’t room for forgiveness.

Memorize these sentences and speak them when necessary. Being genuine requires speaking your mind earnestly without reservation. Be direct. Never cushion your words or lower yourself to sugar-coating.
“I will not be baited into your drama.”
“I will not subject myself to your manipulation.”
“I refuse to be taken advantage of.”
“I am not a fool and I won’t be treated like one.”
“I am better than this and I deserve better than you.”
“I am not a tool to be used at your convenience.”
“This friendship/relationship/job is no longer serving my best interests.”
“I am done.”

Never, ever compromise your expectations for anyone. Write them in stone and don’t deviate. Have the confidence to defend yourself and shape your own happiness. Look at your Happiness Equation and figure out who/what is dragging you down and drop it. Your life is the single most precious thing you have and you alone have the power to make beneficial changes to it whenever you want. Be selfish and don’t apologize.

Letting anyone compromise your level of satisfaction (or worse, allowing them to attempt to sabotage it) is committing a crime against yourself. Hold people responsible for their actions, then let them go for good. You are nobody’s bitch and martyrdom has been out of style for centuries.

Click here to read Part 2 of Your Happiness Equation: Why You Should Quit.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I feel everything you are saying! I have exhausted myself trying to please people that consistently hurting me…. and when they hurt my feelings I explain away their behavior for them!

    ….”I’m just imaging it.” …”I’m being to sensitive.”…

    So, I made the decision to cut the toxic people from my life….
    the only problem is they are my coworkers.
    I love my salon and I love my clientele that I have worked hard to build. When I am busy I don’t care about them. I can play nice and make conversation and be professional. The problem is when it’s just them and me. They are all friends and I am not their friend. I’m okay with this but it’s just hard being the outsider sometimes.

    What advice do you have? Do I leave just because of them? I feel that’s ridiculous and unfair… but today I drove home from work crying because I felt discluded.

    • My advice to you depends on the nature of their attitude towards you. Are you making an attempt to be friends with them, or are you sitting on the sidelines waiting for an invitation to be included? Have you tried asking them if they want to go out to dinner one night after work, or maybe seeing if one or two of them want to go to lunch with you? If you’re not making an effort, they’ve likely assumed you’re not interested. (I’m an introvert and wouldn’t blame you one bit for it if it’s not in your nature to solicit social relationships.)

      If they’re intentionally excluding you, that’s another situation entirely. You can’t necessarily force anyone to be your friend, but at the very least they should be showing some professional courtesy and treating you like a human being. (Not ignoring you, being catty, etc.) If they’re acting that way, there’s little you can do about it. Honestly–why would you want to be friends with them if they were behaving that way?

      In either case, I’d weigh the pros and cons and make a decision. Since I’m not a particularly social person and give exactly ZERO fucks what anyone thinks about me personally, I’d stay if I liked the salon. However, if they’re upsetting you that much, it sucks the joy from the work. In that situation, maybe it’s best to find another salon with professionals who mesh better with you. I don’t think many people outside this industry understand how social it is. A bad bunch of coworkers can ruin even the best workplace. :/

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