The other day I had a little realization that I felt like sharing with everyone. So I did what any 20-something LA-er would do. I updated my facebook status….”Kira Shea Smithson feels like she’s spent most of her life being TOO polite for her own good…Hm… what does this mean? ::Puzzle, puzzle, puzzle::” The feed back I got from people on this lead me to another, similar thought : Why do I qualify statements that I make instead of just saying that I do or don’t like something. If I genuinely enjoy or despise something—shouldn’t I be able to just say so?
Well, as much as I agree with Renee’s diagnosis of why I’ve spent my life being overly polite at the cost of my own comfort—because I am a bit of a ‘people pleaser’ who works to avoid conflict—I don’t think that this explanation is sufficient to explain the second question. I don’t qualify statements regarding what I like or dislike based on what other people will think about me or my tastes. I realized that I qualify statements because I don’t want to miss out on opportunities, or limit other people’s ideas of what they might enjoy based on my own opinions.
Maybe I don’t enjoy something NOW, but how do I know I won’t later? I don’t want to eliminate the option of liking it later!
For example, the other day a friend of mine asked whether or not I thought a mutual friend of ours whom he had never seen perform, was a good singer. Instead of just saying “yes” or “no” I paused for a second to consider and said, “Well, I can see that she has talent. And I appreciate that, but her style of music does not particularly appeal to me.” Hm. Is that being overly careful/qualifying—or just specific? Because in life, specificity is something that I do look for. Something that I’m naturally drawn to.
I really enjoy new experiences and learning. Whether that be eating at new restaurants, walking through museums or practicing some little prayer experiment. And my concern is that people will not look for new experiences. That another person’s desire for growth and a greater understanding of the world will somehow be “filled” someday and cause him or her to stop searching or learning. That once a person reaches that point, he or she will simply rely on my interpretation of something as sufficient instead of seeking out that idea or experience on his/her own.
Now that I think about it. It’s not so much concern over people’s lack of action—it’s a concern that people will allow their minds and hearts to atrophy and exist in a place where they are no longer MOTIVATED to create or experiement. And beyond encouraging people to pursue new ideas—I have no control over that. I cannot detertmine how a person will or will not react, or what they will or will not do. And more importantly, I am not responsible. That’s the hard part.
I tend to feel responsible for things that are not my responsibility . It’s been a tremendously difficult, but freeing thing to learn that in this season of my life. That in any given situation, I can (and am required to) only do MY part. As much as I might want to share something wonderful and new that I have recently discovered with someone else, if that person is not interested, it doesn’t matter. At least not for them. And that’s tough. To let people pass by things that you think they might enjoy or benefit from–it’s very counter intuitive for me. But it’s not MY choice.
If you don’t want to give LOST a fair shot—as much as that might be a detriment to you—as much as you might be turning your back on what could be the most amazing television experience of your life—I can’t force you to watch it.
So I’ve decided that I will no longer edit myself that way. Becasue my editing does not accomplish what I want it to anyway. People will do what they will do. Urgh. People…
So as much as it might be trendy or ‘cool’ or very artistic to like the Postal Service and Wes Anderson movies. I don’t. There. I’ve said it. And I’m not going to try and like them anymore.
I can try something out–give it a fair shot–and then if I don’t like it. I don’t have to try harder or go back to it later. I can if I feel so inclined, but I don’t have to. I can just say no.
Now onto the next step. Giving myself the freedom to not finish things…I spent a year and a half reading “Lolita” becasue I felt like I couldn’t officially say that I hated it until I’d finished reading through it to the end. To make sure there wasn’t some sort of redeeming quality in the end that would change my view of it. So instead of just putting it down and leaving it alone (or burning it) I sporatically forced myself to pick it up and read until I finished the last page. And now I can officially say I HATED it. But really, how many times have you read through 3/4 of a book, or watched 75 minutes of a movie (hating it) and then completely changed your opinion of it based on the last 50 pages, or 15 minutes…Probably never.
So the next time you ask me my opinion, that is what I will give you. And I hope that you will honestly share your opinions with me 🙂
What do YOU like or hate?