Who Do You Want to Disappoint?

Being true to yourself sometimes means letting others down

Annie Mueller
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readFeb 21, 2020


Photo: Verne Ho/Unsplash

Zeke has a friend coming for a sleepover.

This is a common occurrence, no big deal. However, when I mentioned that this sleepover would be a screen-free evening, doom and gloom filled the air.

It surprised me. Recently we’ve cut way back on screen time, and it’s been lovely. Initially a bit bumpy, but a quick recovery. And great results: lighter moods, more focus, less arguing, everyone having a better time. Zeke has been onboard, all the way. His absolute dejection over a screen-free evening was a puzzle. We had a quick talk, and then I had to leave (to deliver another offspring to another sleepover, as it happens).

I got back home, took one look, and saw that his mood hadn’t changed one bit. It wasn’t defiance. It was… well, I didn’t know. I just knew it wasn’t okay.

Time for a talk.

It took approximately 43 seconds for the real issue to surface. His buddy coming over was excited to play video games — was, perhaps, counting on it. Had, perhaps, been led to believe it was a sure thing. Now the promised goods could not be delivered. Zeke’s adorable little face was crumpled in pain not because he cared one way or another about the screens, but because he didn’t want to disappoint his friend. Saying no, not meeting expectations, not being able to make his friend happy cut him to the core.

Ah. Here we come to the heart of it.

I’m never learning the lessons I think I’m learning. That would make it too easy, I guess. After all, what is there to fear about change if you know exactly what’s coming?

The change, the growth, whatever it is, it’s only scary because it’s unpredictable: How much will this cost? How much will this hurt? What comfort will be sacrificed? What effect will this have on my life? On me?

Of course, the potential for good is there, too: How much will this help? How much freedom will this bring? What pain will be healed? What burden will be released? What new truth will be uncovered? What gifts will be given?

You have to go in blind, though.



Annie Mueller
Human Parts

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