Thursday, September 19, 2013

Statements That Changed My Life

1. "She can't wear pants to ride a horse?"

Spoken by the dad of the homeschooling family I tutored in college, when I was still entrenched deep in the morass of traditional extremism. I was being asked to join a horse-riding expedition and I said no. "Because she doesn't want to wear pants," said the wife, who was subsequently embarrassed by his remark. I'll be forever grateful for his bluntness. Because, I mean, how stupid. And so it began.

2. "Everything takes practice."

Spoken by a gay hairdresser a few weeks before I left California. I had forgotten this fact and had been living my life as though I was just bad at everything I tried. Going through a traumatic phase of life can cause amnesia about basic life skills such as the above. He was talking about blow-drying your own hair straight, but it applies to a lot of situations.

3. "You can't just get rid of people."

Spoken by the raw-meat-eating manly man mentioned here. I was justified in getting rid of him, because he pulled the "let's be friends" card, and the "I've never been in a serious relationship" card, and the "I guess I meant it at the time and changed my mind rather than lied" card, but I kept him around anyway because he fixes my car for free. And when he said it, I realized there was a difference between setting boundaries by removing unhealthy relationships on the one hand and not expecting other people to be perfect on the other. You can't just get rid of everyone who doesn't do what you're expecting them to do. I had to be told this by a guy who says he "has never been comfortable with emotions."

I don't make this stuff up, I swear.


  1. +JMJ+

    I've already told you that I "got rid of" a person earlier this year. We had been close friends for fifteen years.

    There was no statement in this case, but the realisation that things don't have to go on forever--that one can end a relationship that has been difficult for the past six years (instead of, say, hoping that someone else will make the move first)--changed my life in a very tangible way.

    It's kind of the opposite of what you learned, but what they have in common is that they must have been obvious to everyone else before they dawned on us.

    1. Actually, I left out the first part of the story, which is that it took me a long time to learn what you did--that you can and should get rid of unhealthy relationships and friendships. That was a unthought of concept for me as well. My friend's statement was more along the lines of "you can't just get rid of everyone." In fact--those might have been his words. I don't remember exactly. It was then mindblowing for me to realize that while it was good to set boundaries, that it was also important not to go to the other extreme and expect perfection from everyone. And yes--I agree some people are born knowing when and if these boundaries should be set, but for some of us, we have to learn them and their nuances bit by bit.

      Sort of off topic, but this is why I hate when people make excuses for people who have no social skills or rough personalities to the point where it seriously inconveniences others.* Anyone can learn these things if they try. We all have stuff that we're good at naturally and other stuff that we have to learn, including ways of relating to others.

      *I kind of like people who are a bit rough around the edges, but I mean REALLY inconsiderate people who just don't bother to learn empathy and everyone assumes they can't.