I went to this meeting about a month ago. I didn’t say a word; even though I had plenty to contribute. Other people spoke up freely, including a lady, knitting a scarf, rarely looking up and openly offering her opinion. When it was over, I turned to my friend and immediately starting laying into her. Making sarcastic comments about her knitting, how she had no regard for anyone else in the room and also how no one cared about what she had to say. After about a five-minute rant, I stopped and realized what I was saying; feeling this overwhelming sense of guilt and shame. Why did I care? Why did I have an issue with what she said? Why did I mind that she was knitting?
The truth is I knew exactly why.
Before I moved to Boston, the UN, my family, other friends and co-workers all had to listen to me declare my new “Namaste Lifestyle”. While I made a joke about the way I now wanted to live my life, it really was no joke at all. During this time, prior to Boston, I had gone from rock bottom (literally in a gutter) to this ultimate high. The kind of high where you wake up in the morning smiling for no reason at all; just knowing that you are going to have a great day, because no one can possibly bring you down. I swear it was heaven on earth. I actually had to seclude myself from everyone and everything to get to this place and I realized that incorporating my new life philosophy into my regular life and encounters was not going to be easy. Unfortunately, I did not realize that I had fallen back into bad habits.
In this moment of weakness, I realized that the reason I had “an issue” with this woman was because her actions triggered my own insecurities. I tend to be self-conscious and too wrapped up in how others will perceive me. I use defense mechanisms such as picking on myself (and others, sadly) so that no one will take me too seriously and so that I can point out my flaws before anyone else. It didn’t take long to see that I envied this woman for having the ability to just be her, all the time, regardless of her surroundings and what people might say. Taking a minute to reflect, I became aware that I wished I could be like this woman.
I read somewhere once that when someone does or says something that bothers you; you should take a minute to understand that their words and actions have absolutely nothing to do with you personally. Whether they are treating you nicely or poorly; it is a reflection of them placed upon you. This advice has been invaluable to me in my personal and professional life. I feel that I have been able to form closer bonds with my oldest friends, family members and even new people who I meet. Being able to accept someone without judgment is a major adjustment for me but it is also something I find pleasure in attempting everyday. Because accepting others fully, means that I accept and love myself, 100% just the way I am. And, honestly, what could be better than that?
I wish I had the chance to high-five that lady, give her credit for speaking and up and frankly ask her for a knitting lesson (it’s cold in New England), but instead I just often think of her kindly and the lesson that she brought back to me.