This is the year that many of my friends and I turn thirty years old. I have no trepidations about it. I fully expect that I’ll be my hottest *cough* at age 35. 😀 I know that supposedly I will be anxious and worried about what this means for me as the day draws closer, but I don’t feel anything yet.
And yet, for some reason, I thought to myself that I have about a month to decide on something I’d like to do before I turn thirty (which would give me just under another month to actually do it). I started to google around for other people’s lists of things to do before turning 30, but you know what? I think I will write down a list of things that I’m proud that I’ve already done (most of them since turning 20).
Warning: Self-congratulatory pats coming up. 😀
- Put myself through school entirely on my own.
- Bought my mom that two-story house I told her I would when I was in the fourth grade.
- Wrote two [bad] novels.
- Fell in love with a great man and worked on making things work.
- Moved out to another coast on my own and overcame my biggest fear of making friends/interacting with strangers.
- Learned to really appreciate true friendship, the kind that lasts over distance and time, and even the fact that we’ve never met face-to-face.
- Learned that I don’t always have to be strong.
- Learned that I’m not always right and it’s ok.
- Lost weight gained from new job.
- Travelled (Canada :D, Vietnam, Korea, England, France).
- Joined a gym.
- Achieved financial stability and began savings & retirement plans.
- Became an aunt twice over.
- Held my little infant brother and tried to be a good [absentee] sister to him as he grew up.
- Learned to appreciate my older siblings.
- Learned to understand somewhat the depth of my mother’s unconditional love.
- Made a difference in my friends’ lives.
Of course there’s more. But it’s late. And these things? It’s not just a list. They really mean a lot to me. I never thought, when I was a kid, that I’d do these things. I remember being depressed and feeling like there wasn’t a lot I can hope to achieve, not knowing how to make things be different. But here I am. Things are different.
And I am happy.
- Seppo woke up early (he had to take his mom to the airport) and made me a full breakfast this morning. Schweet!
- I think more than 50% of my close friends are in interracial or interethnic (? proper term? no?) relationships. Whoa!
- My hair looks better when it’s parted somewhere other than its natural part. Yawn.
- I took a retirement planning seminar today at work and have been reading a debt management book recently, and think I need to learn more and start changing my strategies. Also yawn (but suppressed, like you are sitting in the front of a class or in a meeting with management).
People say, “It’s ok,” a lot as a response to someone’s apology. Sometimes, there is nothing behind the statement. It’s clear, it’s on the surface, and it’s really ok. Sometimes, a person is being passive-aggressive, and things are not ok, but they want the other person to grovel.
I’m not interested in those to scenarios. I’m more interested in a third scenario. Consider this:
Person A is upset that Person B was late [for an important date!]/forgot a promise/let Person A down in some way. Person B feels something in the range of mildly apologetic to completely distraught over the issue and apologizes to Person A. Person A, while upset, is a compassionate/empathetic friend and can see that Person B feels bad. Person A doesn’t want Person B to feel bad over the issue and, being fully satisfied that Person B brought it up and apologized, tells Person B, “It’s ok.”
This is the standard operating procedure for most people I know. On the surface of things, it seems like a nice way to deal with things, especially among friends. However, I’ve learned that this can be quite a bad way to deal with things.
If you are Person A, and in your haste to reassure your friend Person B that they shouldn’t feel bad, you always tell them that it’s ok, then Person B can’t accumulate a body of knowledge about which commitments to you you prioritize and which ones really are things you simply don’t care two figs about. Honestly, I could not care two figs, or even 10 figs (figs: the universal currency of caring), if you are 5 minutes late to meet me. But I know it is important for some people. And with some other peoeple, I can’t tell if it’s important to them because of the standard, “It’s ok,” response. I do care when someone is 30 minutes late and I had told them I had something else I needed to do right afterwards. Note: There is an extra problematic element when, in my desire to keep the other person from feeling bad, I don’t tell them that I have a bunch of things I wanted to do that day. Don’t be like that.
On the most basic level, Seppo and I communicate in completely and utterly different ways, both with many built-in pros and cons of their own. However, in order to work as a couple and as friends, we’ve had to build some severely impressive communication bridges — bridges that now help me to communicate more effectively with other people in my life. I will contend the same is true for him, regardless of what he has to say about the matter. ;p Heh.
Anyway, one of those things we learned is how to say — instead of “It’s ok” — “It was really inconvenient/stressful/upsetting that you did XYZ, but I am really glad and grateful that you brought it up and let me know that you regret it. And because you realized that it was important to me, it really means a lot to me and it’s ok… As long as this never happens again ,which would force me to stab you through the eye with my pencil!”
Ok, maybe not that part.
In summary, rather than:
- Smoothing over the other person’s upset feelings
which does not reward or inform the friend, you should:
- Express why it upset you (which informs the friend)
- Express gratitude that they brought it up (which rewards the friend)
- Let go of the anger (which rewards the friendship)
Optionally, you can also make a joke. I don’t think either of us does it on purpose, but Seppo and I come out of most of our fights/arguments, even the worst kind, having laughed a couple of times throughout the discussion. It’s great and reminds you that you are not adversaries. We do crack comments like the one above, with the eye-stabbing pencil. 😀 It says that it’s high on your priority ladder, but that you are truly willing to move on.
Of course, it’s not recommended with people who would get severely pissed off if you joked during a serious moment… 😀
Just say no to “It’s ok,” unless you really, honestly, truly mean it and it did not even remotely upset or affect you at all. It doesn’t help you and it doesn’t help your friend. It’s such a reflexive action for most people I know to try to keep other people from feeling bad. Between people who communicate with the exact same nuances, it can be ok (heh), but since most of the world doesn’t operate exactly the same way as you, it’s better to say the difficult words.
By the way, I am not endorsing freaking out on a friend and not caring at all that they are feeling bad and apologetic. 😀 Be kind, be caring, but let them know the truth. You can’t learn and grow if everything is swept under the rug.