Over the weekend I enjoyed a night out with some friends. I met up with them at the Country Club then dinner at Peerless followed by after dinner drinks around town. It was a decently large group of people, 6 of us, and we were all having a great time. I’m only particularly close to 2 of the people on board, but am a friendly acquaintance of several years to the others. We were all having fun, laughing, enjoying ourselves. At the bar after dinner, one of the guys in the group bought a couple rounds of shots and announced he had to head home because his wife had something for them to do early in the morning. Everything seemed fine, he paid and left and I didn’t give it a second thought. Not long after he departed, another person there was showing me a picture on his phone when a text came through from the guy who had just left. It said “I can’t deal with Kathie.” Immediately followed by another text that said “she f**kin kills me.” I handed the phone back and just said, “you got a text.” Which of course he read and apologized and was so embarrassed I had seen it, but the damage was already done.
This obviously hurt my feelings. I had no idea anything was wrong! In fact, when told what had happened, my close friends were as baffled as I was. I had engaged with this person at dinner and we all were having lively conversation with lots of laughing. I’ve always been extremely nice to this individual when we’ve been in the same group so I was at a loss for why he said that. My initial reaction was to be sad that someone didn’t like me, then I started to get angry and wanted to reach out to him and ask what I had done and make him explain himself. Thankfully I didn’t pursue that route and just let it go for the night.
The next morning I woke up and it was still eating at me. But after some time of thinking about it, I asked myself a question- how does this person’s opinion of me affect me? I don’t know him well. Sure we’ve grown up in the same town our whole lives, but I’ve only been in the same room as him for social events on probably 3 occasions. I don’t even know his phone number or where he lives. That’s when I decided it is none of my business what this person thinks about me. It also occurred to me how many times I have done the SAME EXACT THING about people I hardly know. I probably couldn’t count the number of times I’ve been out with a group of friends and someone I barely knew was there as a guest and although they were nothing but nice to me, something about them just grated at my nerves. I’m sure I followed our encounter with a “ugh, so-and-so wears me out!” They didn’t deserve that comment just as much as I didn’t.
No one wants to think of themselves as annoying or unlikable, but the truth of the matter is this. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how nice you are to someone, you might end up just not being their cup of tea, and that is a problem for them, not you. If you know you’ve always been kind and never done anything to hurt them and they simply don’t jive with your personality, then you’ve fulfilled your end of things. Especially if this person isn’t even a close friend. Who cares? Before letting someone else’s opinion affect how you see yourself, ask what impact this person has on your life. If they have never crossed your mind prior to this knowledge, then let them back out of your mind where they belong. I think taking constructive criticism is an essential skill as an adult, so if you continue to get the same negative feedback about behavior, maybe that is something to look into. But if it’s just a one-off situation where someone doesn’t appreciate your sense of humor or sound of your voice, who gives a crap?!
This is a great big world, full of diverse and unique personalities and sometimes we’re not all going to mesh and that’s ok. As an individual, the most important obligation we can uphold is to be kind to others and treat them how you would want to be treated. I hope everyone is a little nicer and more empathetic to each other this week!