I am finding that the older I get the more time I spend just looking at people with a blank face and no response– or just smiling and nodding. I have become increasingly picky about how I choose to use my time and energy. For example, if you are an ill-mannered co-worker assigned to work with me on a temporary project and it’s highly likely that I will never have to work with you again I’m not going to waste precious energy in an effort to confront your bad manners or to try to resolve how to work with each other. I’m going to keep silent, complete the job and throw up deuces when our time together is over.
I actually had a similar situation like this play out on a recent business trip except I didn’t quite leave things at a peaceful goodbye. I left with an attitude and was rude and abrupt–and I immediately felt awful about it. Unfortunately, it also seems the older I get the less of a kick I get out of telling people off and fighting ridiculous battles of will with people who hardly know me. I struggle less with guilt by making the decision to mind my tongue and keep it moving.
The Problem with Putting People in Their Place
… is that every once in a while you have to renew it. If you hang around people it is only a matter of time before a faux pas is made and boundaries are crossed. Whoops!
If I find myself dealing with repeat behavior too often, it becomes clear to me that there is no more bud left to be nipped. This person obviously can’t cease and desist on their behaviors so instead of yet another “come to Jesus” talk about boundaries it’s easier to just say nothing and disassociate. The anonymity of technology allows people to be so bold these days, as well as vocal about who is being cut off and why, etc. Listen, I have no interest in a long text/communication with you if it’s going to do nothing to edify you or our situation. If you’re bossy, controlling and hard -headed by nature then I’m not going to bother talking to your bossy controlling hard headed ass because you’re stubborn and not likely to change anyway. I’m simply going to fall back and STFU.
Loudmouth people will somehow try to convince you that practicing STFU is a bad thing. They think it’s somehow passive and weak—however speaking as a former loudmouth (and still transitioning out of this) it actually feels more refreshing and validating to reject potential battles and continue on with life in peace. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone and I save a lot of time by not feeling obligated to do so. Also, when you’re a loudmouth people try to use you as their mouthpiece for when they don’t have the courage to speak up for themselves. I care about my children, my relationship, family, homelessness, poverty, injustice and racism—I am happy to speak up about those issues but I won’t be the mouthpiece for an issue that only marginally grinds my gears. This is life, it’s nearly impossible to be comfortable and happy with everything so you learn to adapt and adjust. I think that is a main idea that a lot of people haven’t seemed to grasp yet. We are a world filled with billions of people all trying to adjust everyone around us to accommodate our needs. Sometimes you don’t get what you want—especially out of other flawed individuals—so MOVE THE FUCK ON! Everyone doesn’t deserve an explanation.
When I made the decision to leave my first husband it wasn’t an easy decision but it was a definite one. I had laid down the law of expectations and those expectations were not being met. While I was in it I was fighting, I was accepting, forgiving, tolerating and trying to make it work but once it was done…well, it was done. I didn’t feel the need to explain why I was leaving; I made the cause and effect clear. If certain behavior continues, I will leave. The behavior continued and I left with no further need for discussion. Talking is EXHAUSTING and sometimes the most difficult way to interpret a situation. I learn so much more about people by ignoring their words, shutting up and observing actions instead. There is power in the closed mouth and I only wish I had known this about 10 years ago! I’ve wasted so much time telling people off, explaining to them who I am and “what they’re NOT gonna do”; when I could have just not said anything and let the chips fall where they may.
It’s Ok Not to Care
I sat home one day, mouth agape as I watched Ellen DeGeneres burst into tears on my television screen. (Anyone who really knows me knows that I love Ellen, she’s awesome, corny and you can’t tell me she’s not an angel sent from heaven to teach us to be kind and dance and be goofy to one another). As it turns out, she was bawling over the plight of some homeless dogs or something. I don’t really remember, to me it was kind of stupid and I don’t care that much about animals. I see those sappy Sarah McLachlan commercials and I feel nothing, and when these issues pop up on my social media feeds I don’t comment or like because I don’t care.
Especially when it comes to Facebook, my timeline reads like CNN on steroids—reporting stories of missing children, weather alerts, social injustices, videotaped violence, prisoners on the run etc etc. Seriously, I can’t possibly keep up and I’m not sure I would know how to without my brain exploding. I observe everything that’s posted but I don’t dare comment on everything because that’s how you end up looking like an ignorant fool. Yes, I’m talking to you accidentally racist people.
Listen, DO NOT hashtag #AllLivesMatter on any social media—of course ALL lives matter but it’s not ALL people getting their asses beat by the police for trivial and/or alleged crimes every day. For every movement there does not have to be a counter movement—shutting the fuck up is ALWAYS an option. You have the space to talk about whatever you please on your social media but nowadays people not only lack empathy and sensitivity but they get into the habit of spouting their opinions as if they are fact. If you do not feel moved by any particular hot topic or subject matter it is completely acceptable and respectable to stay quiet about it in general. A few weeks ago, the biggest controversy was that the world was paying attention to Caitlyn Jenner as a distraction from the real news issues at hand. Well, not really… if you personally care more about race issues, politics or your grandmother’s 90th birthday it’s perfectly acceptable to stay in your lane on those things. You don’t HAVE to talk about or acknowledge Caitlyn (or any Kardashian thereof) at all! One of my main gripes with social media is the social pressure to speak up and speak out but a lot of the same people sounding off are also deleting commentary they dislike or disagree with. That’s not really how this works…
Bottom line: not every battle is yours to fight. People seem so combative these days, wielding their personal opinions like swords and are so quick to stab you with their advice or good intentions. In some situations, people end up having more respect for you if you don’t say anything at all. This strategy may not apply in every single situation, but I do think it would be good for folks to remember shutting your piehole is always an option and perfecting the art of when to be silent and when to speak is probably one of the most valuable weapons any of us could ever carry in our arsenals.*
*Of course this whole blog is made up of my opinion on the subject matter and one could argue that by writing this I am not practicing the art of STFU…