Monday, April 25, 2011

Complicated Me

I have lately become acutely aware of one of my flaws.  I've been led to see it by my time in Japan, meeting lots of new people and, being so far away from home, reconnecting with old friends as I try to keep a handle on anything familiar (not to mention a lot of thinking I've been doing about the past).  I've been a bluntly honest person for a long time, and many people can't handle the quantities of truth I dish out (but I think more so it's the attitude with which I serve).  That's not my problem though; I am direct and I don't wish to be anything but me, and I like being the person people can go to if they want it straight.  The people I am very good friends with are unassuming, smart people who aren't afraid to reflect upon themselves and the world around them with a clear and sober mind.  I am perceptive and have a strong intuition, and I express myself articulately.  My problem is that I can't decipher between what I should say and what I should keep to myself.  That's where I get into trouble. 

I'm practically incapable of knowing when to keep my mouth shut.  If someone says, "Why don't I have a girlfriend," I don't take it as a rhetorical question.  I proceed to tell them just why they don't have a girlfriend.  Mix that with my wry, crass humor and how I am a bit oblivious to social boundaries, add in my propensity to tell just about anyone very personal details, and you have a personality best served with a couple of shots of tequila.  I've had people tell me, "It's a good thing you're cute."  I know that, despite how clever I often think I am, my naivety about how the world works actually prevails.

I have a lot to offer if you can get past my toilet humor and, even more, if you can avoid taking my strong opinions and comments too personally.  As honest as I am and intend to be, sometimes I say things just for effect (which I hope you will consider when you read my left-wing extremist posts).  But this much is true - I always mean well.  I never want to hurt or offend anyone, I really don't.  (Except faceless corporations.  It's ok to steal from them and defamate their names - I learned that from The Simpsons.)  I learned when I was 20, after making a lot of mistakes, that you just don't hurt people you love on purpose.  I took it to heart, and I apply it to everyone, even if it doesn't appear so sometimes by things I say.  I learned when I was 21 that it's just not worth adjusting who you are to make everyone happy.  Despite my strong conviction to be who I am, I sometimes find it unfortunate that my humor has no boundaries.  I think because I am such a lover of humanity, and a crunchy granola type, I can't imagine actually discriminating against someone, but I'm also painfully sarcastic, which is why in my brain it's ok to make classist, elitist, racist jokes; because there's nowhere in space or time that I could come anywhere close to actually meaning those things...

Man, that stuff is just really funny to me!  This terrible Jewish joke just ran through my head that 2 friends and I used to tell to each other repeatedly in high school.  But guess who one of those friends was, and the person who told me that joke?  A really good friend of mine who is Jewish.  I guess I just can't get along with people who take things seriously.  Not "too" seriously, I mean like, seriously at all.  I guess I do see a boundary there - A few 17 year old kids telling Jewish jokes in Florida is different than if I was in Poland talking to an 80 year old lady.  Ok, there's a boundary I recognize.  See, I guess I'm a little daft in that arena.  Jokes are one thing.  The reality of a situation is another thing.  I guess I'm just a little too adept at separating the two.  See what I mean about not being able to keep my mouth shut?  Now a bunch of my Jewish friends who I really like and respect are complaining about me.

The thing is though, I think if I lived in the time and space of World War 2, I would have risked my life hiding people in my cellar.  If I lived in the south during slavery, I would have left the light on.  If it was my hand hovering over that red button in 1945, actually my hand never would have gotten that far.  I just don't believe in hurting people.  Not on purpose.

Bill Cosby said, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."  I think ease of offense is a sign in a person of negativity, and an indication that they identify strongly with certain ideas or events.  I don't believe in that kind of identification and I think it poisons us, so, as much as I truly don't want to hurt people, some people feed on negativity and they will turn words meant to create laughter and fun into a reason to be offended, and a yummy meal of negativity.  I don't want to diminish myself by editing what I say around people, which is a form of trying to make everyone happy, so I just have to come to terms with missing out on relationships with people who take things personally and who are easily offended.

It's complicated, I'm complicated (as most of us are), and it has taken me many years to realize that I can't insult someone that I have known for three days and expect them to laugh and understand where I am coming from.   What to do?

As for sharing TMI (too much information (which I do on an almost daily basis)), one reason I have become so open over the years, and a reason that my social boundaries have gotten even more blurred, is that I think it really helps people to hear about other people's crazy and embarrassing life experiences.  That's why "groups" help people, and why in part therapy helps people, because you find out that you are not the only one and that you are not alone.  People keep secrets for many reasons, but the only reason I don't share stuff is because I am afraid of what other people might think about it.  I define that as a way that I limit myself through fear, which I have another opinion about.  I say f#&* that.  I will not be defined by my insecurities and fears.  Life is too precious and short.  So, I embarrass myself.  So, I make myself vulnerable.  So, I offend a few people.  I do it in pursuit of a laugh or enlightenment or love.  So be it. 

From Japan,


Michelle said...

"unassuming, smart people" ...why not fantastically smart or stupefyingly smart?

:o) I like makes me thing of HP

Great post! I feel like I come across as too blunt sometimes too...I think that's just how we all get along so well. We are brutally honest. It so much the easier way to be.

Nataila said...

It's so odd because I know you're very honest and if I ever need advice that I know will not be glossed over or sugar coated I always think of you. I have never thought of you as someone that would offend others though! Maybe because I know what a huge loving heart you have I know nothing you ever say or do is meant to hurt even a fly!
I remember you found that black widow and wanted it away but didn't want to harm it so we went downstairs and I squished it... LOL!!! Stupid I know but an example.
You are also inspiring and if you don't take it personally that can be life changing. If I ask someone an opinion I want the honest answer so I can recognize and appreciate what I have instead of complaining, or I can recognize a flaw about myself that may sting to hear but will eventually lead to the change of it!
I love having you as what I consider, one of my very best friends. I just dislike how far away we are and yet never fail for a second to appreciate every minute of when I had you at just a shout away at all times! I Love you Tiff!!!!!

sherry said...

what a great article. it make me so proud of you and who you have become. go girl! keep up the interesting ,strong words that you are able to put on you.