In the spirit of being real, and in talking about today and the things we want to change about ourselves, here's one that I'm currently working on:
I have had several encounters lately in which I have gotten caught up in knowing that I was not wrong...but completely lost sight of the fact that I might have been wrong-headed.
I am a person who can be very black-and-white, right-and-wrong. And like every other human who has ever walked the planet, I have a propensity to believe that I am always right. Obviously. Overwhelmingly, if we didn't think we were right, we wouldn't do or say whatever we're doing or saying. No one goes to bat for themselves when they think they're wrong. No one takes pride in having things backward. So of course, we all think we're right, and I am no exception.
Now, add to that the fact that in these recent cases, I really was right. Objectively. If you laid out the facts of the case before a jury, they would have sided with me. It was clear that on the basis of truth alone, I was absolutely, positively, unequivocally right.
But that doesn't mean I wasn't a jerk.
(Okay, I might have been a jerk.)
At this point, it might be tempting, in the world that we live in, to start making justifications about why I had to be a jerk. We could talk about the historical diminishment of women and make a case for why I had to come off strongly just to be heard quietly in a world that doesn't want to listen to women. We could talk about my own personal history and the experiences I've had where maybe I tried to be more diplomatic and was walked all over. We could talk about how the world doesn't understand assertiveness very well any more and maybe I wasn't as much of a jerk as it seemed; I was just asserting myself, putting my feet down and refusing to be moved (because of how right I was).
But the truth of the matter is that I was a jerk - whether a justification can be made for that or not.
And honestly, I don't want to spend my life apologizing for being a jerk. I don't want to spend my life excusing myself for being a jerk. I don't want to spend my life trying to prove that I wasn't really a jerk or that maybe I was, but I had to be a jerk because that's the only way to get my point across.
In fact, I have discovered in my short life that the more I try to justify myself, no matter what the case, the more I come off like an even bigger jerk. The more I talk, the deeper a hole I talk myself into. Until I find myself apologizing not just for being a jerk, but for being an even bigger jerk than that in trying to explain away my jerkiness.
Sometimes, friends, the best thing you can do in the shadow of your own shortcomings...is just to shut up.
Okay, that's actually true a lot of the time.
The point is, it occurred to me more than once over the past few weeks that while I was not wrong about some things, being right did not keep me from being wrong-headed. And I have realized that I would rather be right-headed and wrong than to be right and wrong-headed.
That's hard...for a lot of reasons. But we'll talk about it more tomorrow.