talk about ego

A handful of years ago, I met someone so funny, smart, and attractive that I couldn’t help wanting to be friends. I also, quickly, learned that they were relatively responsible, had many useful skills and some interesting hobbies, and could be spontaneous, thoughtful, and generous.

It came as no surprise, then, that they were also extremely popular, and that we constantly ran into people who knew and liked them, and rushed to assure me my friend was the ‘nicest person(!)’

Yah, I’m pretty amazing,’ my friend would chuckle, and sigh for affect.

Its a good thing you really are,’ I’d tease, ‘or people might think you a little full of yourself.’

In truth, I was only half-joking, though, because it only took a few outings together to realize that my friend was constantly blowing their own horn that way, and that they were the type of person who always has to win, to be the center of attention, and to have their own way. I also saw that while others treated them with the utmost of courtesy and respect, our mutual friend was frequently and callously rude in return. Yet, people not only ignored or excused this, but actively supported their egocentric meanness.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t and wouldn’t, and I made it politely clear from the get-go. Unfortunately, this shocked and upset everyone so much that they tried censuring me, while my new friend simply claimed that I was ‘too sensitive’, and ignored what I had to say. When they tried treating me poorly too, though, I eventually broke down and said, ‘Look, that ego crap might fly with others, but it won’t fly with me.’

Ego?! What ego?!’ my friend gasped, and argued that I didn’t understand. ‘I’m really quite shy and humble!’

When I could stop laughing, I tried to explain, but my friend denied even having an ego. They did, however, say that I was welcome to try to convince them otherwise, and while I considered simply severing the newly formed ties between us, I decided I liked them too well not to, at least, try.

Thus, began an ongoing conversation about ‘ego’ that’s caused my friend and I a great deal of stress and conflict, but has also allowed both of us a chance to learn about ourselves and others.

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