Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How not to be someone to "deal" with

What she thinks she’s saying (maybe): “I’m not perfect. But those who love me will understand that and not be overly judgmental when I fall short.”

What she’s actually saying (and maybe knows it): “I have some reprehensible personality traits, and I’m not even going to try to fix them. Why should I? Then I wouldn’t be so adorably quirky.”

It’s one thing to have some personality flaws, because that’s every human being; it’s another to be fully self-aware of this fact and deliberately do nothing about it. That’s the sign of someone who refuses to change, and perhaps even enjoys the drama that comes with being rigid and unreasonable.

This is not a gender-specific characteristic. Both women and men are capable of circling their wagons around their worst traits, and insisting that others have a duty to tiptoe on eggshells around them when they're at their worst.

No, others don’t. In fact, a lot of emotional abuse is justified that way. All of the burden of compromise shouldn't fall on the person who must deal with a difficult attitude. Meet in the middle, at least.

Like all other humans, I’m not perfect. At all. While I like to think I’m a mostly radical dude, I have my fair share of wear and damage. Like Curtin, I have my 3-year-old moments. Hell, I have moments when even 3-year-olds would say, “Grow up!” I’ve lashed out at people for no fault of their own. I sometimes take things way too seriously and/or personally. I’ve buzzkilled a few good times with my histrionics.

But here's the thing: I hate those things about myself. They’re sources of shame. I see them, and the reactions they provoke, as signals that I need to better myself in some form. I shouldn’t have any authority to tell any friend, colleague or girlfriend, “This is who I am. Deal with it.”

Maybe I’ll ask someone to understand where I'm coming from. But if they don’t, I understand, because I’m similarly intolerant of such antics in others. I don't ask, nor do I expect, anyone to embrace these tantrums. This isn’t a litmus test for whether someone should like me. Oftentimes, I’ve improved my behavior precisely because someone refused to put up with it. Or maybe I realized on my own that I treated a good person poorly, even if they took it without visible objection.

People should always aspire to improve themselves. You can’t change the past, but you can improve for the future. In fact, you must. Evolution isn’t just some faraway macro-phenomenon; it happens within all of us, every day. If you’re rational enough to know where you’re irrational, then you’re wise enough to get to work on it. Become someone others don't have to "deal" with in the first place.

You should be liked for who you are, not tolerated for it.

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