The first time the term “Pick your battles” clicked with me was over a game of tabletop D&D.
My group was doing battle with this elemental wizard, see. He’d sent a large wall of sand flying towards us at an alarming rate. With every role it got worse. The Paladin before me had the bright idea of shooting a jet of scalding flame from his magic sword at the offending mobile beach, only to change our sandy fate to a wall of white hot glass. Stupid Paladins.
So, I decided to do the only thing my simple thief could think of.
I put my head between my legs, and took no damage that round.
Picking your battles is something not a lot of people do nowadays. Granted, I still cherish the occasional roundabout debate that goes nowhere, but it usually stays where I’m comfortable. Friends, people I trust, people I know won’t take me personally, and people I actually give a crap about.
Again, if you’re the argumentative type, more power to you. I just don’t have that kind of time.
This came into play at two of my recent workplaces in the past few years. The first was a battle I chose to fight. I had a manager who openly disliked me. Nothing I could do would make her any less sour towards me. Apparently I was everything she hated. Liberal, nerdy, well liked and happy, I guess. After a few months of her treatment (Which included my staff and my customers regaling me with her personal comments on a daily basis) I finally snapped. However, I snapped knowing that without me, she would have been utterly screwed. She wanted nothing to do with the actual clientele of her business on a daily basis, and without me, she would have had to set aside her dreams of corporate America and come swim with the little fish 6 days a week. We came to an understanding after that. I don’t think we ever hugged or anything, but she finally realized that beyond the gaming, horror cons and graphic novels stood a fully functioning adult female quite capable of defending herself. That was a battle worth fighting.
At another job, I was readily thrown under the bus by a co-worker after being publicly told off in a pretty embarrassing manor. My first instinct was to argue my innocence, but I decided to take stock in my situation. Apologize and move on, or fight what was likely a losing battle and take someone down who frankly got enough crap there as it is. This battle was best left sucked up and forgotten. It was simply not worth the effort.
I never, ever, ever fight on the internet. Oh I am tempted, but there’s nothing to gain. I have a position in my life as a GM where I attempt to put out epic net arguments on a weekly basis. A sort of unpaid human resources department. I’ve watched so many people run into a proverbial room full of unarmed men with guns blazing, fingers poised to shoot at anything that moves in a direction they don’t like. Business being made personal, veiled insults, all of it. Completely pointless. I’ll watch people on Facebook go at one another, derail topics ad nauseum, and come off with some of the most well written retorts humanly possible. Of course, they have the information highway at their fingertips, and infinite time to drive.
By the way, I can totally tell if you Google statistics, stupid.
One of the biggest keys to find out whether a battle is worth fighting is simply the effect it will have if you win. Will you prosper without squashing anyone’s feelings? Will others benefit from your actions? Will the person you’re speaking to listen? Are you doing this to feel superior, or because it’s just right?
My battles are not yours, and as previously discussed, my way is not the highway. Some people adore arguing and I won’t lie, I adore reading it. Especially when I agree with you. It’s my little Maury Povich guilty secret.
Internet aside, when you feel the white hot rage of injustice well up inside of you, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Look at the person you’re fighting against. Are THEY worth it?
We’ll end with a personal example of a battle I thought was worth fighting. A former man in my life would stop at nothing to make me feel like hell on a daily basis. He saw that I struggled with esteem, that I was in a rough place in my life. Instead of support it, he exploited it. He was battling his own demons, and I represented a soft place to throw daggers. One day I grew back my balls, and he broke up with me. I hold him no ill will, but I thank goodness every day that I knew exactly how to get him out of my life. Fight back.
The types of battles worth fighting for involve ignorance, bigotry, racism, chauvinism, human rights. Big stuff. Being able to play a Pegasus unicorn elf hybrid, or covering your ass from rubber bullets, not so much.
I’ve always found it kind of strange how we want so badly as humans to fit ourselves into such tiny little molds.
I’ve talked before about how being similar to the universe as we know it isn’t a bad thing. Unavoidable, really. Now I’m going to touch on our differences. I started to really think about this post after abandoning my original idea; three ways I cope with life that I feel make it better for me. Taking compliments, smiling, and not sweating the small stuff.
I started thinking about what that meant. What makes -me- feel better. I had it sectioned off, planned, I’d been thinking about it all week. I’m going to impart my personal wisdom on to you, the reader, and give out warm fuzzies to everyone!
How dare I?
So I decided instead to post about the nagging feeling I had inside that kept me from my original post. People are wicked different, yo. Some of you may read this and think “Wow, she’s really got her shit together.” Others may think I’m being a preachy know-it-all, but bless their hearts for letting me blather on. Still, no one’s wrong there.
That brought me to music. Most everything brings me back to music. It’s a perfect example of how exceptional we are, and how our ideas of what makes us feel good differs vastly. I’ll use Sonic Youth as an example. Playing at Urban effing Outfitters.
I hate this band. Hate them. I didn’t dare say that in the 90’s because doing such would have you branded a heretic. I’d say something like “Well, I understand their contributions to the grunge era but I’m not a huge fan.” No. They suck. Sorry.
This doesn’t mean that folks that like Sonic Youth are a gang of brainwashed idiots, and it doesn’t mean they’re a bad band. And sorry guys, the same goes for Justin Beiber fans. People like what they like, and hate what they hate. What makes me happy and fixes my life up a bit may make you vomit with rage.
Self help books are another perfect example of this. Perhaps that’s why there’s so many of them. Each preaching a final and perfect answer once you get to the last page. For this, let’s use “The Secret” as an example.
Apparently, The “Law” Of Attraction needed a reference guide. Karma’s got a brand new dress. You can have all the money, love, and happiness in the world as long as you are a little spiritual magnet of happy thoughts. Those of you that suffer from such medical conditions as anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression are obviously doing it wrong. An all too familiar sentiment. When a philosophical leap of faith isn’t working for you, it’s entirely your fault. You’re not trying hard enough. Buy more books, jackass.
To say The Secret is complete crap is very easy, and very played out. It is not, however, entirely true. Books like this help people sometimes because some people really, really like them. Not everyone does. To say that those who read this book and didn’t get it are just lost, stupid humans is just as closed minded as judging someone for disliking a movie. Listening to the wrong music. Going to the wrong church.
(Oops, watch it there tiger.)
Different strokes for different folks. I’m glad some of you get things out of what I write, but reeling myself in and understanding that I can’t fix everyone’s shit is something that keeps me grounded. As well as smiling, Saying “thank you” when complimented, and not sweating the small stuff. It sounds easy seeing it, but it’s still a daily struggle. I had a few days this week where drop-kicking someone sounded fabulous. I even got in minor trouble for trying to talk down another co-worker. It sounds barbaric, but whatever. Over and done with. NEXT!
Not everyone can let things go this easily, and not everyone has the ability to smile problems away. As similar as we are, our differences are tremendous when it comes to what makes us feel good, and what gives us faith. Attempting to pigeon-hole yourself into anything from a scene to a political affiliation is a way to feel like you’ve got people around who get you, but we need to stop using it as a licence to feel superior to folks who don’t.
So I’ll keep doing what makes me feel better, and I’ll keep talking about it, but I don’t expect it to work for everyone. I love human beings, and I love the things they do differently most of all. Of course I’m more than happy to accidentally make someone feel better about themselves, but I can’t write under the illusion that everyone’s going to gain something from it. So, I doubt I’ll be talking to any publishers about “The Three Things.”
One of the best things about the internet is it’s ability to give us instant, peer-to-peer interaction. This could be anything from friendly advice to something more technical, like the various Live Chat programs many sites provide for instant help and information.
This is a double edged sword, however, when your peers aren’t interested in helping you.
One of the best things I did for my self as a kid was keep a private paper diary. I could say whatever stupid teenage crap I needed to say without fear of backlash from my parents who respected that privacy, or my friends who were on a need-to-know basis. Nowadays, these same typical teenage rants are often broadcast online under the guise of privacy by kids too young to understand the concept, and dying for someone else to empathize.
We all remember this video.
As out of control as this was, and as disappointing it was to see folks in either the “Haha dumb little bitch” camp or the “Lol your daughter’s gonna be a stripper” camp, this is an absolutely textbook teen tude. After this video was made, both the man and his daughter discussed the incident together, and his daughter made it quite clear she had no intention on becoming an adult performer. I won’t go into details on how angry I was that the world at large seems to think the fragile egos of teenage girls drive them solely to sex and ruin, or that exotic dancing is something to be woefully ashamed of, but that’s another post for another day.
Parents need to be wary of this stuff, and kids need to know where it’s okay to write this stuff down to blow off steam. Had I the ability at 13 or 14 years of age to write down my feelings for my small yet opinionated world to see as a kid, I’d probably be extremely confused.
I know this sounds odd coming from someone who has Blogged on the net in one way or another since 2002, ( I look at my LiveJournal and want to claw my face off) but there are certain things that are better off said on paper to absolutely no one. Kids as young as 10 or 11 are now turning to the internet with their worst fears, or their issues with self esteem.
Of course if you read the comments, you’ll find a mix of complete creeps, trolls and people who mean well. Welcome to the internet!
In my last post I talked about how hard it is to NOT struggle with self esteem and identity issues. Parents need to be all over this stuff. Kids are sneaky, and it’s very tough to keep them away from everything that will harm them. I managed to sneak my way into some rather dark tunnels as a kid, but I always had an adult to pull me out.
(Thanks Mom and Dad)
As lame as they’ll probably think you are, encouraging your kids to keep a paper diary may be something you want to try. Understand that you as a parent will probably be the target of vitriol either way, but that’s ok. Every mother or father on the planet will at some point deal with a hormonal, raging child saying awful crap to them. When it comes down to it, they love you. Just shake your head, and love them back. They’re venting. That’s ok. The best part is, they can look at it later and judge their behavior by themselves with a cooler head. Hopefully!
(Thanks Mom and Dad…again…)
I can’t imagine how awful my self esteem would be if I counted on the internet to make me feel better about myself or dole out advice. It’s ok for the small stuff like where to get Thai Food or whatever…but for big stuff?
Maybe not such a hot idea.
So call me old fashioned if you must, but there’s something to be said for keeping a private paper diary. Something comforting. Knowing you can get something off your chest without having it analyzed to death by your equally confused pals, or winding up pissing off your parents. Granted this isn’t just a teen phenomenon. I see some pretty embarrassingly personal posts on my Facebook by people my age or older. Each to their own, but man.
When something really important comes up and I really need help, I ask the people I trust to be honest with me. I do the same thing when I don’t feel so hot about my looks. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be complimented. It’s normal. People like to feel good about themselves. And for god’s sake, TAKE THE COMPLIMENT. You’d be surprised how much that action alone will change you.
So give it a try. If you’re 11, if you’re 80. Sometimes the best advice comes from your own head once you shake the junk out of it. This is a link to some extremely cute diaries by Kreativlink on Etsy.
Make it personal! If you’re crafty, make your own!
There is something that’s also rather cathartic in reading old hand-written journal entries. 10 years ago I was so different. I can reflect on the paths that took me to where I am now. Picking up a book the 14 year old me poured her heart out into helps me understand how I’ve grown when I’m feeling stagnant. If there’s more growing to be done. There’s no confusing commentary, just raw me. I’ve been privileged to some of my own mother’s childhood writings, as well as my great grandmothers diaries.
Imagine if my great grandmother’s struggles with marrying outside her religion were plastered on Facebook 100 years ago.
In a nutshell, it is important to write down how you feel, because you can process it. It is not always smart to show everyone else. Approval is something we all seek in one time or another in our lives, and criticism is inevitable. Make sure you get it from the right people. Wanna know where to find a good vegetarian place? Yelp. Wanna know how babby is formed? Ask ur dokter.
A few days ago I left my umbrella on the 95 bus. Blue, cheap little POS. Nothing to go into fits over, but the next day it was raining so it sorta sucked. I get on the bus, and casually ask my driver if she’d seen it. She’s my regular driver so we chat pretty much every morning.
“Oh yes I turned it in!”
I told her it was ok, not to worry about it and that I could grab another one somewhere. I thanked her for turning it in and remembering.
I hop on the bus this morning, and it turns out she’d went back to HQ and got the umbrella, hoping she’d see me to give it back.
It was very thoughtful, and pretty much made my whole morning. Thank you very much, 95 morning bus driver.
It’s the little things, folks.
I’m home sick today, which means I really don’t have any excuse not to blog.
One of my main struggles with this medium is, of course, what to write. Some of my more established blogging friends have helped me through this rather inane struggle, having found their path in the Blogosphere (Is that a thing?) and settled into what they’d like to do.
Coupled with that struggle is a surprising bout of “What will others think?”. Will I offend anyone? Will any of my friends think differently of me? Should I talk about my personal politics or religious beliefs here? You know, the typical flame topics.
I’ve been raised to consider others, so I do. Sometimes to a damaging and infamous degree. I remember being pulled out of class by our Dean during my senior year to console a girl that had been targeted as bully fodder by some of the younger kids. I wound up missing a crapload of notes. Was that too self serving? Saying that?
I’d like to be one of those folks that touts a “Devil May Care” attitude regarding the universe at large, but I’m just not built that way. I’ve never minded talking about how I feel when asked in person, but I’m well aware that not everyone I know is exactly like me and I’m cool with that as stated in my previous blog, (which I’m now reading with a scrunched face and becoming highly embarrassed about), I don’t particularly like being around a bunch of people just like me.
For this reason, I made a decision about my Facebook a while back. No massive politics, no religious talk, no deep personal issues. I’m quite comfortable talking about all of these things, but even the most carefully typed updates can be misconstrued and lambasted by those with the best intentions. See, now I’m feeling the need to tell you that I don’t mind if anyone else does it…but do you really believe me? It’s just me not being up for debate on a social medium that I’m not at all comfortable using as a pedestal. Do you feel better yet?
I’ve got no problem telling people how I feel face to face. Devo and I got into it last night about feminism and politics. He challenges me constantly with opposing viewpoints and I love him for it. There’s no guard, no anonymity. I can’t stop mid sentence and Google Bella Abzug on my smart phone without looking kinda stupid.
It’s not that I’m worried about random internet people, mind you. I’m fairly well versed on the way it works out here and there are certain battles best left alone. I’m more concerned about those I love or those I’ve just met (and linked to my blog like a shill) feeling alienated or offended. It does feel rotten and weak admitting that.
I wonder if I’m writing a catharsis blog.
Most blogs do one of three things. Take off, go nowhere, or cease after the first few posts. I’ve made it to post four, and I’m sure I’ll find my notch in the net eventually. I’m not sure how I’ll write, or what I’ll write about. Perhaps I’ll use this as a springboard to become more brave when it comes to the typed word, damning all possible judgement. Perhaps I’ll just write about benign internal struggles with acceptance.
Perhaps I’ll just post cute pictures of animals.
Maybe a little bit of all that. I’m a complex creature, damn it.
Until I settle into the routine I’m comfortabe with, I’ll preemtivly strike with a little something borrowed from The Bard.
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
Suck on that.