And it seems to have shocked several people, my recent inability to keep my irritation in check. As a demonstration, this is what I generally normally dress like (for reference if you read my other blog post about feminism, as well), especially in summer:
Except with much shorter skirts.
And, it seems now, that this is what I tend to think like:
(I was going to put a menacing Viking, but everything was Game of Thrones)
The reactions of aforementioned shocked acquaintances have got me thinking, though: What the hell is so wrong with being abrasive, vocal, irritable, and/or angry? Sure, sometimes it serves no purpose. But I like to think that many of the times we get angry at people, or things, we are legitimately in the right to demand that we not have to deal with the things we are angry or irritated about.
I have a very specific process for dealing with people who irritate me, for instance. I spend as little time with them as possible, because I know spending time with them will just get me...well, see above picture. And then when I do have to spend time with them, I simply try not to speak to them, and when I do speak I am painfully polite (i.e., clearly I don't like you, but I have to deal with you on a regular basis, so there). This process is engineered to do two things: first to keep my blood pressure from rising, and second to demonstrate to these people who irritate me that I don't particularly like spending time with them. It's engineered to garner a reaction that is a polite, silent acknowledgment of my irritation, which is often mutual. Sometimes there are the people who don't quite figure it out, and think I actually like them. It makes everything so much harder.
And then there are the people who insist on confronting me. They come up to me and say something like, "Why don't you like me?" or "You don't like me," or something of the sort. My reaction?
Well, duh! It wasn't exactly meant to be a secret! You know what it was meant to be? It was meant to be something we both acknowledged and moved on from, something that didn't cause drama, something that didn't cause awkwardness with us, or our acquaintances. That is the point of the aforementioned process! Commenting on my dislike does absolutely nothing, it actually makes things worse. My dislike does not affect my assessment of your gifts, talents, and your work--that would be the point of my politeness when we spend time together, or my quietness.
So why is it so bad if I dislike people? Am I supposed to like everyone? Why do we insist that we must LIKE every person we meet? And if we don't like someone, we're supposed to try and work it, to give them the benefit of the doubt.
At what point, then, is it socially acceptable to admit that we don't like someone? At what point, if we are supposed to continually try to find the good in people, is it ok to say that we will never be on good terms, personally?
And, perhaps more importantly, is our determination that everyone should like everyone else because we truly think that way, or because we think that no one can distinguish between personal and public relations? What I mean is, do we think that if someone doesn't like us, be it a coworker or a colleague or a boss or a teacher or a student, it will effect how our public careers will grow and change? Do we think that we'll be sabotaged, in some way or another? Or do we fear that we'll be implicated in some sort of sabotage ourselves? Is that the real reason that we want everyone to like each other?
You could say we want the world to get along so that there's no more conflict, no more misunderstanding, no more wars, which is great, and what most of us want (or should want). But does liking everyone and everything, does denying annoyance and irritation and, yes, even anger, really do that? Can't you get along with someone, even if you don't agree with them? Of course you can! So why do we insist that anger, irritation, and annoyance, be shoved into the closet beside our feelings of pride and passion and old umbrellas that doesn't really work anymore, and that one flag that kind of keeps falling out, but somehow or other keeps getting pushed back it? You don't need to go stomping around and chopping people's heads off, but indulge in some irritable rants with friends and family. Allow an annoyed eye twitch, or angry teeth clench (though I don't recommend many of those--very bad for the teeth and jaws). It won't be the end of the world if you complain or are irritated and let it show just once, I swear.
I so wish that I had The Fault in Our Stars with me, because I'm sure there's a great quote in there on the topic of being angry and cancer perks and all that jazz, but I don't, so just imagine it.