The world threw me a bit of a curve ball this morning when I opened my inbox, after sending someone a message full of congratulations and positive energy, only to get a reply attacking my character and intentions. Unexpected to say the least, but hardly surprising. Nothing surprises me these days. Nothing.
I know all too well that society is quick to judge the small bits of people that we see and deal with and even quicker to forget that people are many-sided and chock full of all sorts of layers of being. Hell, I judge people I don’t even know to be purely evil assholes if they are caught being cruel to animals. I admit that I have no idea what sort of crap they went through in their childhood or if they are mentally ill or what set of circumstances led to them setting kittens on fire for fun. I’m as guilty of it as the next gal and I see this part of myself and cringe at my ignorance.
So, when I received the message this morning, I just took it that the person who sent it doesn’t really know jack shit about me, except what she sees for a couple hours each week and while I’m in a spotlight with all eyes on me. Were I to be fair, if that’s all you see of a person, how can you not assume that is the only aspect of their personality? I didn’t bother to defend myself or my actions (because, really, why should I if she’s already judging me and pointing fingers in the first place?) and I didn’t reciprocate by attacking her character. I simply thanked her for sharing her feelings and giving me some insight into how she views me.
Apparently, that was the wrong thing to do because I then received a reply that really ripped me apart as a person and also accused me of being “mean or unreasonable in person, judgmental, possibly vengeful, and ignorant about how (my) leadership style affects” others. She also said I was prone to anger and, really, that one just made me shake my head.
Ironically, I wasn’t angered by her words (although, according to her I should have been) and I, again, wrote back and let her know that I had read everything she’d written and understood it all.
I’ve been on a self-awareness trip all day because of this. I shared her thoughts and feelings with a few of the people I trust the most to give me honest, no bullshit feedback – people I knew will always tell me, point blank, if I am indeed any of the things she accused me of being. None of them agreed with her. In fact, my hubs (who has zero qualms about telling me when I’m being unreasonable or acting like a complete dick) said that he has never known me to be an angry person. Ever. This I knew, but it was nice to know that it wasn’t just my imagination or ego telling me that I’m too awesome to never act like a douche canoe.
People are totally entitled to think and feel whatever they want about others. We all say and do things that hurt other people from time to time, whether it’s intentional or not, and I think that is simply human nature. If this lady wants to believe all the horrible and negative things she said about me, so be it. There is really nothing I can do to argue with her or convince her otherwise and I’m totally okay with that.
What I’m not okay with is that she basically went off about how awful I am and how much my behaviour hurts others and yada yada yada, but she never once even tried to propose a solution. It was all “you’re an asshole and you’d better change yourself right now or else”.
Uhm…I’ll get right on that!
After I ran it by a few friends and received some feedback that was fair, insightful and honest, I spent the remainder of my afternoon pondering possible solutions. And, no matter how many scenarios I ran through in my head, one niggly little thought popped up over and over and over. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
I could do many things about this situation. I could make an effort to let her get to know the rest of me, so she can see how she is judging a tiny portion of the whole of me (which would require energy I don’t care to expend on her). I could allow myself to become the angry, vengeful person she accused me of being and let everyone know what she said to me (which I won’t do because I like to think that the past few years have cured me of the need to make sure people see both sides of the story). Or, I can let her say and feel whatever she wants about me, let her fester in her own bubble of negativity, and choose to simply walk away from the entire situation and be happy.
Took me almost the entire day to reach the solution that I should have recognized from the getgo.
Happiness is really the only choice.