'...so yeah, just pretend you don't know ok!'
I think we've all experienced one of those 'bomb texts', as I think of them. The kind which once you open, you sit there paralysed, wondering wildly what you should do--forgetting what you were just laughing about and why you were looking forward to having a good day--and are haunted by for the rest of the day until you lie in bed trying to sleep--still worrying about it--as it sucks the life and energy out of you, reducing you to a gibbering wreck of social anxiety, insecurity, and overthinking--
--welcome to the wonderful world of 'friend drama'!
If there was something one could do or take which would immunize you from these awful experiences--well, I would be lining up for it right now.
Though no one has yet invented an anti-drama spray, there's hope; with transparency and honesty, I believe, one can live above this exhausting pettyness of friendship drama--or at least manage to avoid getting entangled in much of it.
If we are able to live honestly, to conduct our friendships transparently, to demonstrate sincerity--to do, as Benjamin Franklin once resolved, 'nothing that may require a lie'--we create for ourselves a reputation of being straightforward. People who have observed us will know instinctively that we are 'not the sort of person' who would do such a thing, or to have ulterior motives or meanings. Even when we've made a faux pas, they won't jump so immediately to the worst possible interpretation of it, and hopefully give us the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully, you'll also find yourself with less burdensome secrets forced upon you, because the people telling them will think twice.
However, we can't get here without humility. To be honest at all requires humility, the willingness to admit we were wrong, that we are not as good as we'd like to make ourselves out to be. If we were truly honest, we'd be able to let go of all those petty struggles and temptations which are so effortlessly a part of what we call social interaction. Thank you, social media, for teaching us to prioritize our appearances--as if that didn't already come naturally. The temptation to control how others see you, even in insignificant things like manipulating how something is represented so as to put yourself in the best light. Or to minimize what you did wrong/put the blame on someone else.
I'm afraid I've caught myself doing this countless times. The way I withhold or emphasize certain points when I'm telling something to someone. Why it feels so important that someone knows (or doesn't know) something.
You realize you're actually hoping to make it sound as if it was more someone else's fault than yours; that you want others to get the impression that you worked really hard or had such good intentions. This is so subtle that it's quite amazing how many times you can catch yourself doing something--no matter how small--out of this motivation.
It could be that last (actually unnecessary) line in a text. It could be why you look away deftly, pretend you didn't see. It could be that brief remark that belittles or casts a shadow of doubt on someone else's praise, or that subtly amplifies the compliment you just received. I don't want to sound paranoid and nit-picky, but really the more I think about this the more I find myself convicted of pettyness as the motivations in much of what I do and say.
That brings in another interesting (and almost as pervasive) way that pettyness manifests itself, when we try to manipulate how others are seen. Besides the obvious culprits of gossiping and badmouthing, it includes those microscopic activities that make up cold wars. Maybe because we feel slighted by them, and we want to do the same back. Maybe because we're insecure about our image and they seem a threat to us, so we feel compelled to put them down, to put them in an unflattering light. So-and-so didn't reply my text. Fine, I'll make you wait five hours before I answer yours. You think I care so much about how soon you reply me? (which very obviously is the case)
To put it another way--the belief that our value lies in our image, and that controlling this image means controlling our value, is a mental hobble that ensures we keep going in endless, mindless circles, obsessing over how we appear to others. Likewise, thinking that controlling how others are seen becomes a way of controlling their value.
First of all--as should be obvious--this is an enormous amount of time and effort and emotional energy. That alone is a perfectly sound reason in itself why you should distance yourself from pettyness.
But on the other hand--pettyness isn't just about cultivating self-worth and 'removing negative people from your life,' as media so glibly assures us is the cure to drama. It has a root, as all human actions do, and that root has something to do with honesty and humility--or the lack thereof.
If we were more honest about ourselves, if we were more humble towards others, we wouldn't see the need to engage in all these little rubber band wars.
We wouldn't agonize over interpreting other people's actions and words, and always be weighing how it affects our image/value...
Or spend ages obsessing over a text message.
We wouldn't live in dread that not everyone acknowledged our birthday, which of course would mean that we're a social failure and all our so-called friends are fake and hate us--right?
We wouldn't be scheming not to sit next to someone, or on who to exclude...
Or have to agonize over which side to take--which clique--
Life would be a whole lot simpler.
But more importantly, our minds and hearts would be liberated from the almighty idol of pettyness, the desire to control how others see us, the desire to control how others treat us.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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