Beware Some Who Care
I remember a medical intern asking me when I was in my thirties if my eyes had always “bulged that way.” I have big eyes and back before the extra skin folds of time had arrived my eyes appeared to be quite huge. The intern was sure there was something seriously wrong with me. Then he saw a tiny bump on my leg caused by an ingrown hair, one that my skin had grown over. He freaked out in a very unprofessional manner. I explained that the ingrown hair had occurred because of regularly waxing my legs. He said he had never heard of that. He didn’t mean that he’d never heard of waxing causing ingrown hairs but that he had never heard of ingrown hairs at all. Fortunately the doctor entered the exam room at that movement. That intern had either been taught to see possible horrors everywhere or had decided for himself to use his newly acquired knowledge in that manner.
Some people behave this way about everyday life. They seem incapable of celebrating your joys or encouraging your bravery. They choose instead to see disaster lurking everywhere. We might assume they’re simply trying to protect us when they point out potential tragedy after tragedy they believe we have not considered. But we’d be wrong. They are invested in their own status quo. They need things to stay the same. They’re threatened by anyone who doesn’t follow the rules unless that person is a celebrity of some kind. They believe we regular folk must march to what’s expected. If we don’t, if we choose to break away from what we’re supposed to do, from what is considered to be safe, then it’s as if we are questioning the bravery of these doomsayers and the validity of the rules they trust to keep themselves safe. Their behavior has very little to do with our wellbeing and very much to do with their own fears. They’re offering us an opportunity to renew our membership in their collective cowardice.
Am I being too harsh? Perhaps. But I also have compassion for those who behave this way. I hope that my actions bring them an inch closer to trusting their own hearts instead of the preprogramed instructions society has implanted in their minds. The kindest thing I can do for them is to not get angry or upset. The most harmful would be to agree with them or to let their comments go unanswered, but there is no need for me to challenge their perceptions of what is smart or stupid. I don’t need to convince them that I’m not insane. Instead I’ll acknowledge that I’ve heard them and then tell them that I do not agree. I will invite them to watch me. I will explain that I am not visualizing a perfect picture of success even though I reject their image of ultimate disaster. I just see myself walking forward in a direction I am choosing for myself, ready to respond to whatever comes next. Oh yeah, and I might not choose to have them over for coffee quite as frequently as before.