Trust by Navina Anand

I have known her for the past three decades.  Met her in high school. We were both new to the school. We were NOT ‘two peas in a pod’. And yet, she is the only person in the world who knows every single detail of my life. Well… almost. 

I can lay my soul bare to her. I can tell her about the times I am petty, jealous, cheap, stupid… because I know she will never judge me. She does the same. We both laugh at our flaws, shortcomings, and stupidities. I know she will never let me down in front of other people no matter how much she knows about my deepest fears, my worst follies, or my darkest confessions.

And then there was ‘Flaky’. I labelled her after she bailed on me quite a few times. I wanted to trust her because our interests were so alike; We love the same books, movies, tv shows; She is a great conversationalist and we have a blast every time we get together. But… that’s where it ends. I can never trust her because she has bailed on her commitments time and time again. She can only be a ‘timepass’. Much like a tv show. Entertaining, but not allowed into the inner circle of our heart.

This leads me to the question…Who are the people we trust in our lives?  Is there a stock answer such as parents, spouse, kids? I don’t think so. Even those that share our DNA. Mothers can be alcoholics. Fathers can be gamblers. Children can abandon you. What a pessimistic view you say?

Is it instant like the crush of ‘Love at first sight’? Or is it like a friendship that slowly blossoms over a period of time? I have always wondered if Trust, much like love can also come in both forms. From the way a person speaks, sometimes, almost against our better judgment, we trust somebody. Only to realize later what a fool we have been and the vice versa has happened too. We instinctively have mistrusted someone only to feel ashamed later. I suppose we all have a template inside our heads on who is trustworthy and if it fits the mold, we take the plunge. But no one knows for sure, until after. 

There is no doubt though that the one thing we steadily lose as we grow up along with our beautiful spotless skin is our ability to trust. The glee of a toddler when presented with a bar of chocolate in contrast to the doubtful smirk of a teenager when presented with the same. It is a good thing. Keeps us safe. As we grow older we label trusting people as “gullible”. 

Most of our relationships have to work hard to gain our trust. And much like the proverb… once broken… maybe fixed.. but the cracks are still visible. Do you think the number of people we can unconditionally trust is a good indicator of the quality of our life? Can we put a number on it? 5? 7? more?

Trust unfortunately demands very high standards. It is a binary game. We need to come through every, single, time. There is no 75%- first-class, 90%- distinction in trust. You get 100% or 0. So if we want to be trustworthy to someone, we need to come through every single time. It is a tall order for most of us. If you say you are going to do something, be somewhere or say something, you slip once, it is going into that big bad book of past transgressions and there is a strike against you. For every strike against you, you have to come through ten more times so that the strike starts fading very slowly.

But I also think that much like the motivation theories that split people into X and Y kind of people, for some of us trust is given until it is broken.. while others mistrust until you can prove that you are safe. Few of us bravely walk into the world without an armour around our hearts while others have cages around them, built from experience. The more bitter our past, the stronger our cage. 

It’s hard to step out of the history of our baggage and give people the benefit of the doubt. “Why do you yell at me the first time you are asking me to do THIS task” my husband protests. That is because I am not a robot that is reset every day. I have strong baggage of past actions that influence my behavior today. I would have to be a supreme human being to be able, to begin with a clean slate every single day.

Do what you say. Say what you do. They call it integrity. It is easy to trust people who have integrity. But having integrity is a hell a lot of hard work and we are not up for it at all times. And that is human. So we pick and choose. As a result, we lose the trust of the ones we are lazy with and keep the ones that we make an effort with. I suppose it is as simple as that. 

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