“I promise”

Promise (noun) — “a declaration or assurance that one will do something or that a particular thing will happen.”

Empty promises happen often, but when “promises” are more empty than they are genuine, it can easily be a recurring deed of constant lies and deception. When the words “I promise” are mentioned, it’s expected that said promise will be kept and followed through although it’s not always likely.

  1. “Well, maybe s/he forgot.” — It’s still an empty promise.
  2. “But what if s/he had something more important to do?” — That would essentially still be an empty promise. But more important to who, and how much more important? If there was a legitimate reason, however, why don’t I get told this reason as soon as possible? Why do some people find it genuinely okay to leave it until the very last minute for me to find out? Because that recently happened to me and there was no real intention of an apology.
  3. “If you remind me, I promise I’ll do it.” — Wait a second, so in order for you to intend to keep the promise, there’s a condition which states that I have to perform an action which triggers this promise, leading to you either doing whatever it was that you promised to do or potentially forgetting until I remind you again? Or I could just “forget” and see how long it takes you to realise, if at all. I can comprehend this sentence in certain contexts, such as if a job or looking after people, like a family, gets in the way. But I haven’t been in that particular context all that much for the amount I’ve been lied to.

Now, I fully understand that people genuinely unintentionally forget things, including promises. I, of course, am nowhere near perfect — I also forget to do things that I promise as well. But I can say, hand on heart, that I make a special effort when keeping promises. Either that or I don’t use the phrase “I promise” if I have a feeling that I may not do whatever it is that I would otherwise promise to do.

Whilst writing this, I struggled to find a sufficient antonym for the phrase “empty promise”.

Because a promise is a promise.

It’s meant to be genuine and is supposed to hold meaning. There shouldn’t need to be a pre-modifying adjective to decipher an empty promise from a genuine promise. But I personally feel that there needs to be the word “genuine” in order to tell the difference between empty or otherwise. Because it seems everyone and their dog knows what I mean by “empty promise”, but does anyone really think about what the simple word “promise” is meant to withhold? I’ve never been able to understand why anyone would swear to do something then go ahead and not do it without a proper and legitimate reason.

A “pinky promise” is seen to be a somewhat childish act but even a few days before my 18th birthday, I will still happily swear by forcing someone to pinky promise. Mainly because doing the action of locking our smallest fingers together can sometimes help the other person, and me, remember what happened in that moment.

“Promises are born broken, to fix them you keep them.” 
― Jenim Dibie

This is an eye-opening quote. No one likes a broken anything, do they? A broken arm, a broken leg, a broken promise? Broken suggests a problem. A broken bone hinders a functioning person from living their day to day life the way they know. Just like a broken promise can prevent friendships from functioning the way both parties know and are used to.

So why do people break promises without seeing what comes after it? Is it because a broken bone in a cast can visibly be seen by peers and a broken promise may need video, audio or written evidence of it being said and made in order for it to be both broken and a promise? Repeating a bunch of words isn’t always a sufficient way to show that something in the past definitely happened.

As I said in my last article, actions speak louder than words; of course they do. It shows that the other person cares enough to stick by their word and follow through with the action of keeping their promise.

Which, to me, is one of the most important and trusting things someone could do. Because being lied to is a constant in my life. It’s a rare and joyous moment when people keep their promise to me because it shows they care. They don’t have to care a lot, but they care enough.

And enough is enough for me.

Published by Bushra Shahriar