Trust is a decision you make every time.

Jen Xu
5 min readNov 24, 2018

I’ve learned somewhere along the way that I really suck at trusting people. Oh, I mean, I think everyone struggles with it, I’m not saying I’m anything special. But there are also some legitimate reasons as to why I’m this way, I won’t discount my struggles. It’s a balance. Anyway, this is a major thing I dislike about myself because it gets in the way of my happiness.

My biggest fear regarding trusting people is that they’ll just one day up and decide they don’t like me anymore. Whether it’s a friend or a boy or a coworker… I just worry. And I’ve just realized today that I do this because it’s easier.

In a way, it’s easier to just expect the worst from people. That way, if and/or when they screw you over, you’re almost happy because you’re right. Even if it hurts in some way, in another way — you were right, you can at least feel good in a vindictive way. However, that’s just a deep-seated self-loathing that sounds awful and depressing.

By doing the above, I might be miserable in the present moment, but at least I can protect myself in the future. And that is precisely why mindfulness is such an important practice for me. When I’m busy at work it’s a great distraction, but when that stops, where am I? Stuck in my own head. Instead, why don’t I choose happiness? Why don’t I choose to enjoy the present moment, even if it might hurt in the future? I can’t really answer that. I don’t necessarily want to adopt the view of “future me? Screw her!”, but I want to think of how I can help myself in the present moments.

The other reason I have difficulty trusting people is because I’m a micromanager. It’s very difficult to watch people do something in a way that I don’t like, although my biggest issue is when it’s something inefficient or wrong, that I think I could do better. And maybe I could do better, but it doesn’t always mean I need to speak up if it ruins a team dynamic. Right, so in the same way, it’s like I don’t trust people to be honest with me if they need to. And really, this is a very narcissistic, arrogant and obnoxious view and it’s something I work on every day.

Trust isn’t just a one-time decision you make. It’s something you actively have to pursue every day, every moment. And it might get easier over time, but it’s going to be absolutely god-awful initially. There will be tears, frustration, anger, horror, sadness…it’s definitely going to suck for a little before it gets a lot better. Trust is a decision you need to make multiple times, and it’s never going to be perfect, but that’s okay. Trust is a choice. Trust says that you choose to make that person a part of your life in some way. Trust is difficult and sometimes draining, but the rewards are endless.

It took me about 2–3 years to realize that my college friends from freshmen year were really my friends. It took a few months after graduation to realize that my college friends and I may not talk everyday, but it doesn’t mean they like me any less. I talked to adults (this is funny because I often forget I’m an adult) who would offhand mention that they had college friends they rarely talk to, but they are friends for life, through all of the moments. I’ve finally found people who will stand with me through thick and thin, who will call me out when I need it…my friends and I spend most of our time making fun of each other, which sounds awful, but it just means that we trust each other to know our limits.

There’s the other thing. Trust takes time! You can’t rush it, but you can’t shy away either. God, everything in life is about balance, isn’t it? As I go through the rest of life, after college (some say college is the most life-changing experience…I say it’s the few years after graduation), I’m going to meet new people and make new friends and be exposed to so many moments where I need to make the choice — to trust, or not to trust?

I could contribute my lack of ability to trust to so many things. Sometimes it helps me to identify exact reasons and provide perfect answers for myself because that’s just how I am, but sometimes I just need to stop and feel. It’s funny, the moments where I need to trust my instincts and emotions — I don’t, I turn to logic and reason and I really try to think it through. And the moments where I need to subtract my emotions from the equation? I really struggle. I’d like to stop making life so damn hard for myself. I’d like to let go of the small things that cause me to react overly emotionally and focus on the things that matter. I’d like to trust myself to trust others. If trusting others is a decision, then I need to trust my decision…to trust others. I hope that made sense, because I just had that thought.

Sometimes I just don’t like to make decisions, especially when whatever I do has some type of consequence. Like, either way I’m probably screwing myself over? No thanks! However, like I said, if trust is a choice I need to make, the potential “consequence” of trusting someone is that they miiight hurt you. I just need to remember that the positives and benefits far outweigh the consequences that may not even happen (unless they don’t, which is another decision you’d have to make).

No one ever said trust was easy or even fun sometimes. But god, it must make life so much easier…at least I imagine. Which is a joke, by the way, I have learned to trust people! I just didn’t say how many. Apparently I think I’m really funny. Anyway, my goal is to start making these hard decisions more, the hardest being trusting people unless I simply choose not to. I never said to try and trust every person you come into contact with, but if you actively choose to make them part of your life…why not just choose to trust them and make life easier for everyone, especially yourself?

Anyway, I’m not exactly sure what my next step is, but I know that I have things to work on, and that gives me some sort of weird, twisted joy. I guess my desire to get better (in the general sense of the word) just means that I haven’t fulllly given up on life, so that’s a relief. Long story short — if you choose people to be a part of your life, then choose to trust them.

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Jen Xu

Athletic trainer, PhD student, coffee lover. I write about fitness, mental health, being Asian-American, and personal growth.