Did you ever have an opinion about someone that you fabricated based only on your observations and assumptions (no facts) and then when you got to know them you were like – wow – you are NOTHING like the person I thought you were. And if they asked what you did think, you really couldn’t say b/c you thought they were… insert less than kind thoughts here.
Yeah, me too.
And, it turns out, they are nothing like what ever you thought they were because they are just busy or shy. Or maybe they are just having a bad day.
They would love to have time to just shoot the shit with you but they have to get home. She has to get home because she’s separated and a single mom and not ready to tell anyone just yet. Or, they can’t go out because their daughter requires too much care and they can’t find a babysitter to handle her. Or they brushed by you in the hallway because the emotions of their day would be legible on their face and they don’t want to break down and tell you that their son is so riddled with anxiety that he can’t leave his bedroom.
Guess what, whatever it is… it has nothing to do with you. Everyone has their own story.
Here’s one of mine. I remember being in a family counseling session when I was in college. I flew home to attend it with my whole family. I don’t remember what had precipitated this bit of intervention but there we were. In the group there was a woman I remember who was weeping and saying that all she wanted was the Donna Reed family and she didn’t know why she couldn’t have it. My Dad looked up and said – “there’s no such thing as the Donna Reed family” and everyone in the room just stared at him like he has said something really foreign. I don’t remember him saying anything else for the rest of the session. Donna Reed played the Mom in a TV show that was popular in the 50’s depicting a perfect suburban house-wife with perfect kids in a perfect house in a perfect life.
Turns out, my Dad was right. There is no Donna Reed family. And really, who would want it. Doesn’t all that perfection sound boring? When we were younger and at the height of driving my parents completely insane my Mom would say – I can’t wait for boring. I get that now. Boring seems pretty appealing when you feel like you are living in chaos. But, boring isn’t reality and boring doesn’t set you up to recover from the incredible lows to then experience the wonderful highs.
Who knows what someone else’s family is like when the front door closes. Who knows what heartache the person in the grocery store ahead of you is dealing with as she stands in your way, blocking the aisle, because she’s engrossed in the ingredient list and you can’t get your freaking cart around her! She’s engrossed because it’s the first break she’s had all day. Let her be! Who knows what the grumpy guy in the donuts line has stuck up his arse – maybe his wife didn’t make him coffee because she is taking care of her mother and not him. Smile at him. Most importantly – who knows what anyone is dealing with – all the more reason to be more mindful of just taking care of yourself and knowing that really everyone is doing the best they can – even you.
My oldest son had a speech class in college his freshman year. The first assignment was to introduce yourself to the class and the professor implored everyone to be creative and not give the run of the mill “My name is Blah and I am from blah blah blah.” Sean’s speech was called; “Why my family makes Modern Family look like a joke.” He won’t share the speech, only the title, but suffice it to say – we are not boring. Nor are we waiting for it.