Friday, May 20, 2011

Nothing personal?

If there's an expression I hate more than, "It's nothing personal," then it's on another unpublished piece full of expressions I hate and why I hate them.

(And yes, that exists.)

I'm notorious for taking things personally, probably too much so. I understand that many things truly aren't personal, such as business decisions or if someone lashes out at me because they're having a bad day. I try to keep those things in perspective and press on.

What bothers me, though, is when someone tries to say, "it's nothing personal" as a consolation. If something makes my life harder, I will have a hard time brushing that off, no matter how little it matters to the person offering the expression. As Americans, we're accustomed to being a number. We're told not to get too disappointed if things don't work out the way we want, because we're just one person-slash-cog in the grand scheme of things.

Some people can take this attitude and run with it. For some of us, though, it's a little harder to accept. When someone tells me that "it's nothing personal," I feel more insignificant for being told that. I realize that the world doesn't revolve around me (nor should it), but my world does revolve around me — my needs, my wants, my desire to reach out to others. I'm out to fulfill these desires on my own, but no man is an island. It's frustrating when factors outside your control affect your life, whether it's the economy, world events or just some snippy person who makes your day miserable. It may not be personal, but it sure affects how we feel (and, sometimes, eat).

Which is why I hate the expression so much. Just by virtue of saying it, the consoler (intentionally or not) both reminds you that you're a number and dismisses the idea that you should have feelings about it. "It's nothing personal" is one of those expressions better said by not being said.

(This blog was inspired by Seth Godin.) 

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