Let’s play a super fun game called “What are your worst personality traits?”
I’ll go first!
My worst personality traits include but are not limited to:
1. A general tendency towards gossip
2. Weird over-decisiveness
3. Defensiveness about everything, ever
As I’ve gotten older and more socially adept, I’ve learned to tamp down my external defensiveness but the space between my ears is still a perfect storm of “Well!” and “But!” and “That won’t work for me and I WILL TELL YOU WHY.”
Like most people, when I’m with old friends I’m much more inclined to be my real, true, naturally defensive self. How lucky for them!
It was over lunch with one such friend that I was (hopefully) cured of my defensiveness once and for all.
We’d been talking about my friend’s decision to go from being a most-of-the-time vegetarian to a full-blown vegan. As a fellow most-of-the time vegetarian, my immediate thought process was:
1. “I bet she thinks I’m an unethical heathen because I eat bacon twice a year.”
2. “Does she think she’s better than me?”
3. “When I die, am I going to a special circle of hell that’s reserved for people who say they’re vegetarians but eat Arby’s chicken strips once a year?”
And because we were old friends, I made a ‘joke’ indicating as much.
She laughed, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Sarah, my choices are not a commentary on yours.”
That’s good, isn’t it? And it can apply to every single thing we find ourselves getting worked up about.
My choice not to have children is not a commentary on your choice to have children. It is, however, a commentary on my two awesome stepsons, my non-maternal personality, my commitment to my career and travel, and the fact that I’m 36 and my husband is 42.
My choice not to eat meat is not a commentary on your choice to eat meat. It’s a commentary on the fact that I haaaaaate ground hamburger and if you grew up in the Midwest that’s pretty much all we eat here.
My choice to travel a lot is not a commentary on your choice to stay at home. It’s a commentary on my own easily-bored nature and the fact that I live somewhere with six months of snow.
And isn’t that a relief? No one is making their decisions in reaction to ours. Nobody is attachment parenting, voting Libertarian, going carless, or giving up dairy AT us.
Really, most of us are too self-absorbed to be making decisions in reaction to other people’s! We’re all doing the best we can, making the choices that work best for who we are right now. We’re making those choices because we want to.
So let’s make a pact. Next time someone makes a choice that runs counter to our own or brings out our less pleasant, more defensive side, let’s take a deep breath and remember: it’s not about us.My choices are not a commentary on yours. And vice versa. Click To Tweet