just call me raegen

STUPID, MEANINGLESS LIVES UNITE TO DISCUSS UNPOPULAR OPINIONS

Tag: immaturity

Careful the Company You Keep

When my second cousin was about 3, her mother would scare her into sticking close by by shouting, “Bad people! Bad people!” whenever she’d wander off too far.

bad people

Totally unrelated, but has anyone else noticed how gas has gone up 80 cents in the past two months? (Photo credit: brand0con)

Admittedly, the quality of parenting represented by this statement is questionable. Still, I have to admit that, beyond just being frickin’ hilarious, it got the job done; little M always returned to her mother’s side when she heard this.

I hope M will someday know — in less scary ways, of course — how important it is to choose the company you keep wisely, for this is a lesson everybody is truly well served by. Without going into too much detail about the specifics of why this topic is on my mind to protect the parties involved, I was reminded once again recently of the power that the company one keeps can truly wield over a person.

big stick

Oh, yeah — wield that big stick, Billy! (Photo credit: uzi978)

I remember very distinctly the turning point in my relationship with the two people I’m thinking of specifically while writing this blog. One I never liked; we’ll call this person X. Sometimes you just meet people and know right away there’s just going to be a clash. It’s nobody’s fault; your personalities and values may just be too different, and perhaps you sense or experience a lack of respect for what you believe or represent. When that happens and you know your path and this person’s will cross again, pretty much the best you can do is hope for civility — which you may or may not give or receive.

The other — let’s call this person Y — well, that person’s just young. I always felt the — there’s no great way to say this — immaturity of Y’s mentality (exacerbated by the fact that Y always claimed to be very mature for Y’s age). And given how immature I am, that doesn’t speak too highly for Y. Still, I rarely begrudged Y for that mentality because I guess I felt I’d sort of been there, done that, and at one point, I genuinely hoped to help Y avoid some of the burning buildings I saw Y rushing toward.

fire - onlookers

Don’t get sucked in by the light, little moth! (Photo credit: Daveybot)

One October, my relationship with both X and Y took a turn for the worst. It seemed as if Y felt torn, like Anakin Skywalker, between the Jedi and the Dark Side. You can decide which category you’d like me to represent in this equation, but long story short, Y felt — for some reason that will likely never be known to me — that Y had to choose between me and X, and the choice Y made was X.

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in Reve...

I regret turning to the Dark Side almost as much as I regret this hairstyle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Frankly, I wasn’t surprised. Disappointed, yes, but mostly just confused by the whole thing — and the lack of explanation accompanying it. Good thing I had a brain cell or two left (at least at the time) to figure it out for myself.

But here’s the thing: Once I got past the inconsideration of the whole episode and the fact that, in this particular situation, it would not have behooved any of the parties involved to have a conversation about the incident that might’ve cleared the air, I started thinking about the effects Y’s choice would have on Y’s life. Now, I’m not Y’s keeper, and it’s not my responsibility, but still, Y is young, and I suspected that one day — maybe not right away, but at some point down the road — this decision would cost Y something very valuable that Y may not even realize is valuable to Y…yet.

And so it seems it has happened.

I don’t think Y realizes it on a conscious level at this point, but all the negativity, gossiping, and general Debbie-Downering Y has been doing with X ever since I exited the scene (I was the one who always put the kibosh on that shiz) has led Y to make a major life decision that I suspect — based on the waterworks, anxiety, etc., that accompanied the announcement of the major life decision — Y already subconsciously regrets. I believe, with all the conspiring and, again, just straight-up negative jibber-jabber that X and Y were doing, Y lost sight of what really matters to Y as an individual, not just someone who needs to feel like part of the “cool” (if by “cool,” one of course means “alienating others with different views in order to bond”) crowd. Y made a decision not for Y’s own legitimate reasons, but because Y got sucked into the Vortex of Stupid. And I fear Y is going to be finding out very soon — the hard way — just what the price of that is.

This picture from a NASA study on wingtip vort...

It looked good at the time, but… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not blaming X for Y’s life decisions. No matter how naive or immature Y may be, Y must still be accountable for Y’s choices. And Y will undoubtedly learn much from this experience — but what a price to pay — if I’m right about it. Not that I hope I’m right about it. In fact, I hope things somehow do work out for Y. It’s just hard for me to see how that’s going to happen, given what details I know of the circumstance.

Anyway, it reminds me of this insightful tidbit from a longer piece that is generally attributed to Colin Powell but for which other origins have been claimed: “The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate — for the good and the bad. … If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.”

I myself had to learn the hard way just how costly surrounding myself with the wolves could be. The wrong company leeches into your system like poison; don’t drink that Kool-Aid, man!

Kool-Aid Man

The Kool-Aid Man seems like your friend…but is he? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the immortal words of Rushmore, “With friends like (that), who needs friends?”

This brings me to the following poem, which to me represents the natural conclusion to my own trials and tribulations with the wrong crowd: Sometimes it’s best to just be on your own, even if you’re lonely; to wait for worthy company that can help you soar manifest itself in your life instead of settling for less.

“Samurai Song” by Robert Pinsky

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

Communication Is Key

Yesterday, a coworker asked me a question about the trade show I’d attended the day before. After I answered, we got to talking about clients, issues we’ve come across in dealing with them, and strategies for improving our chances of success with them in our respective capacities.

By the time she left my office, I realized two things: 1) I’d only ever done something like that with this office’s sales staff with one other salesperson who’d left long ago, but who understood the importance of this kind of interdepartmental communication, and 2) how important this kind of communication — well, communication in general, too — actually is.

Let's Talk Mobile Couch.

Can’t you see I’m busy doing some male bonding here? (Photo credit: LexnGer)

Lately I’ve been hearing complaints from various people in my life — both professionally and personally — about feeling confused, slighted, uninformed, ignored, misunderstood, etc. These are all problems resulting from a lack of communication… or a lack of effective communication, but let’s just call that “communication,” too, for the purpose of this blog, because ineffective communication isn’t really communication when you think about it anyway.

For example, when you call someone a butt clown instead of telling them why you’re upset, you’re not communicating anything to that person besides the fact that you’re immature and, like an infant, can’t really express your needs outside of throwing a fit.

(“But, Raegen, haven’t you called people butt clowns on here before?”

“Why, yes, yes, I have. But that’s different.”

“Why?”

“Because I also tell them why I’m upset.”

“It still seems kind of hypocritical, though…”

“Just shut up, butt clown! You’re ruining my point here!”)

Bush Responds To Allegations of Temper Tantrums

Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!! (Photo credit: taisau)

The weirdest part of all of the complaints I’ve been hearing lately is that people know exactly what’s bothering them — so they’re clearly not having a problem communicating that. What is the problem, then? They’re not communicating with the right person.

It’s not going to do you any good to tell all your coworkers, for example, that you feel out of the loop and worry that it’s affecting your abilities to do your job if it’s your boss that holds and disseminates all the information you need.

It’s not going to do you any good to tell your family that you feel slighted by one of your best friends who for whatever reason didn’t send you a holiday card this year.

And your buddies are not going to solve your problems in the bedroom. But your doctor might. Your shrink might. Your partner might.

English: G-Spot Vibrator

This might. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As far as I can tell, people have one of three reasons for not communicating with the right person who can help them solve the problem:

1) There is a belief that communicating will in some way damage the other person’s feelings beyond repair.

2) There is a belief that communicating won’t change anything anyway, so why bother.

3) People are chicken s***.

I’m now going to make the argument that Nos. 1 and 2 are really just thinly disguised No. 3s that aren’t fooling anyone.

LOST Auction - Mr Cluck's chicken costume

Although… did you know most of the time, it’s women in these costumes? (Photo credit: Pop Culture Geek)

While, yes, some things we say can be hurtful, no one participating in common society is so fragile that they’re beyond repair. And most of the time, the hurtful things are things being said deliberately to be hurtful, as opposed to being hurtful in and of themselves. In other words, there’s a right way and a wrong way to phrase the same thing, and people who say hurtful things are typically choosing the hurtful version.

People are smart enough to know there’s a right and wrong way to respond to most things. For example, if you ask me if you look fat in those jeans, I’m smart enough to know you’re already feeling a little insecure to begin with, and I can either be a friend to you or exploit that. One right way to respond (take notes, gentlemen) is, “I think these other ones are more flattering.” One deliberately hurtful way to respond is, “It might be time for you to start that diet again.”

There is this sort of Hollywood version of communication that leads us to believe that every time we communicate — if we’re doing it effectively — rainbows should shoot across the sky, unicorns will appear and begin prancing around doing a little happy dance for us, and the other person not only suddenly — after all this time — gets us, but the change we hoped for occurs in perfect synchronicity, and we ride off into a fairy-tale sunset ending (perhaps on those aforementioned unicorns) together.

This was just too brilliant to pass up.

But that’s why it’s called Hollywood, people; this is not how it works in real life. In real life, if you’ve communicated effectively with the right person in a way that could elicit change, here are just some of the things that could happen:

1) The other person, who was previously calm, expresses a new emotion. This could include joy. This could also include anger. It really doesn’t matter. If you’ve really gotten through to someone, you’ve made that person think, and that elicits an emotional response. That emotional response is a sign of progress. But it also inspires fear in the heart of men (and women — you know what I mean).

Cue “Goodbye Horses.”

2) The other person could — and likely will — respond verbally to what you’ve said. This could include, “Thank you! This was really bugging me, too, and I’m glad you brought it up.” This could include, “How can we improve this situation?” But this could include, “You know, it bothers you when I do X, but I find myself doing X when you do Y.” This also could include, “I’m not sure we should be friends/lovers/etc. anymore.” And people are typically afraid of loss and even change, even if deep down, they really want change and know change must occur.

3) Most importantly, though — and no matter what the outcome — you will finally know you had the courage to tell someone how you felt. This is the part people really don’t think about much — or if they do, thought doesn’t equate to value, but it darn well should. If you have the gonads to tell someone what’s on your mind for the purpose of improving that relationship and, bottom line, your life, no matter what happens after — no matter if that person disrespects you by calling you a butt clown, then walks out the door, or not — you can and should still be able to respect yourself.

But if you spend the rest of your life in a cage of fear, no one — not you, the person you have a problem with, nor all the outside parties you confided in about the issue — will be able to respect you.

“I refuse to live in a cage of fear.”

Oh, yeah, there is one other reason a person might have for not communicating with the right person: You just plain don’t care enough. I’ve reached that point with people who’ve come and gone in my life hundreds of times over. And this is fine. Some people come into your life only for a season, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But in this case, don’t waste anyone’s time. Save all your breath, don’t complain to anyone, and just let nature take its course.

But if you’re planning to continue having any sort of functional relationship with another person, you have to be willing to communicate with that person. It’s part of change. It’s part of being an adult. It’s part of life.

Madonna said it best: Express yourself. (Crotch-grabbing optional.)