It’s easy to succumb to the notion that the entire world is against you. That despite giving it your all, and then some, people still unjustly want more out of you. The extra efforts we’re asked to undertake can at times feel unnecessary - especially when we’ve already contributed so much. And the fact that we’re being misunderstood on top of it all, can be infuriating. But a lot of times, that extra mile is the very thing that tenaciously ties relationships together, and sustain them without strife.
It’s very hard to accept the opinions that others have of us as being completely definitive. But if there is one thing that I’ve learned in these past months, despite the validity of those opinions, if you can find a way to set aside your sense of pride and confidence - to pretend for a moment - that those opinions are indeed true. It can allow for unexpected transformations to occur.
For instance, you could be the most polite person in the world. Raised by the Duke and Queen of England with the highest standards for social etiquette. If you’re so sensitive that a bum on the street calling you a rude asshole is enough to puncture your spirit - then why not go ahead and assume that you are a rude asshole. The key element here is for you to retain a sense of self. You have to know that at the core, you’re a polite person - an immutable, and unchangeable fact. You can’t let your identity be defined by the opinions of others - but you can use them to improve yourself by striving to become MORE polite. An opportunity for betterment, no matter how unnecessary it may seem.
The reason why someone asks something more out of us is because from their perspective, there is something that we’re not rightfully fulfilling. It’s likely that they’re just blind to our efforts. But it would be incorrect to invalidate how they feel just because we disagree with them.
I remember a few years ago, I worked at a restaurant where I struggled with lazy bussers. Still to this day, in my honest humble opinion, I was putting in way more effort than they were. I finally asked one of the guys why this was the case. Is there something I’m doing wrong? The response was that the bussers felt I was asking too much out of them. A perplexing admission given the fact that I was clearing the plates off of tables half the time while taking orders, delivering drinks, and running cards. From that day, I made a decision to stop asking the bussers for anything. I would just let them be. In fact, I went the extra mile. Whenever I caught one of my bussers hiding in the backroom, playing dice or drinking coffee, I just went over with a hand over their shoulder and said “Jose, is there anything I can do for you? Do you need anything from me? Do you want to take a break maybe if you’re feeling tired?
This obviously took many of them by surprise. Soon enough, I went from being the most detested waiter to one every busses was calling “their favorite”.
Accepting an erroneous notion as true can be a hard pill to swallow. But remember - everyone see everything differently. What’s false to you, is true to them. Sometimes the only way to bridge differences is to reach a compromise, and to reach that compromise requires us to set aside our pride. The initial pain of that first step will soon be mitigated by the positivity of the outcome. And if you think people are full of shit, and you feel no need to change anything about yourself. Then by all means. I’ll be the one to pat you on the back as I whisper in your ear, “fuck’em”.
(Originally published March 12th, 2018)