Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The one about tanks, or me, it's difficult to say

Since this blog originated with the concept of extending grace, more and more I find, the person to whom I need to extend the most grace is um, Me.
I'm a complete mess most of the time, and the only reason I write at all is because I must.

So, here's guilty confession number 237: I am not of strong character. I am a people pleaser. Ooohhh, that's 2. It's ironic, since I am also very outspoken. But there it is. I am an outspoken people-pleaser of weak character. I bet you're jealous.....I am a walking oxymoron. (But definitely not a moron.)

Here's the stage; I've just sat down to a picnic lunch with a handful of acquaintances and friends I have not seen in a while. I am eager to impress. Especially since one of said acquaintances can only recall me based on a very unfortunate crush I had years ago. Gosh, I hope I gave him a better association today. I'm thinking maybe no.
The table is spread with wine, cheeses and bread, olives, pate and prosciutto. A discussion on the humaneness of pate arises. I didn't bring it up, but being the know it all that I am, and only after the question was asked, I contributed to the conversation that pate is often the result of inhumane treatment of animals, look across the table and realize aforementioned friend is spreading generous portions of pate on bread. Shortly thereafter, it was pointed out, not by me, that I am a vegetarian. I felt on the spot. When asked why, I gave my stock answer that there's many reasons, I'm not a militant vegetarian, and I really just don't like meat. I was so anxious to not offend, that I wanted to wave it all away. I felt all sorts of wishing I wasn't such a big-mouthed introvert.
I shared funny stories of the "vegetarian" friend I traveled with in Israel who ate lamb every chance she had. Who can blame her? I shared how, as a child, I often was sent to bed during dinner because I would not eat the meat on my plate. In my haste to control the attention placed on me, I missed out on something. I missed out on hearing that my  friend's new husband is also a vegetarian, and that he and I probably have a lot in common. I missed out on hearing his perspective, and maybe being the richer for it, and perhaps others would have been the richer for it as well. He was about to share his perspective on industrialized food, but the discussion of whether or not we had to eat everything on our plates as children took over.
None of that really resonated with me until much later. That night, I was doing what I do. I read blogs. Other blogs. I don't just read the blogs, if it's a good post, I read the comments. Last night, I read hundreds of comments on a couple posts. What I discovered, which is really not news, is that people just don't listen, or rather pay attention. Comment after comment revealed the reader latched onto one teeny portion of the whole and completely misconstrued the post or the previous comment. Time and again, the author would have to retell what had already been said, and said clearly the first time in my opinion. Commenters preached and pontificated, and I realized I'm not the only misunderstood person on the planet. I get frustrated that I am often misunderstood, but how can I be surprised when I see it happening to others and I'm so busy crafting a pleasing persona, my real person is lost. Everyone has a paradigm from which they operate. Everyone. Some are more aware of this than others. Some can step outside and understand another's point of view. Others cannot or will not. And there's the rub.
What I really take away is to talk less, listen more. Which is really difficult, because I love to tell stories.
That is why I prefer reading blogs and comments. It affords me the time to really hear other people. I am richer every day from the insights and stories others are willing to share. Now to figure out how to apply that in person.
Meanwhile, if you want to know, I will tell you why I am a vegetarian. And, if you eat meat, I am not judging you. Well, mostly not. Maybe a little. No, I'm not.
If you can't make a clear connection between the photo and this post, refer to The Oatmeal.


Unknown said...

Very nicely written. I am also a vegetarian and I try my best not to judge and accept other's choices but I often fail. I think, that as humans, the quality that actually brings us together is our ability to be vulnerable and fail. And to be open to expressing that. You did that very eloquently here and thank you for taking that chance. We are all better for your choices.

megconnell said...

I didn't realize you ate lamb, Cass!

teehee, jk, jk. When are you coming up my way? I'd love to see you.

Cassandra said...

As always, thanks for the comments! I really appreciate feedback, good or bad, but I do prefer the good.

icyexhale said...

What I can say is that I feel for you because I think I understand what you experienced. Always only too late I realize I missed something and my mouth was the culprit. I like writing, it takes thought. I love other writers, too, they are people pleasers, but try to take care of themselves by attending to their own thoughts. You have a beautiful blog.

margie said...

Lots of us can identify with this people-pleasing thing. It has taken me a lifetime of reflecting on how my trying to take care of others and anticipate their needs is not necessarily my strength - it's my weakness. I've recently had more time to think about this when I was de-throned from caring for others and was also told my opinions about most things are being ignored until I learn more about taking care of myself. I'm learning to like this a little bit! And thank you for your prayers and comments!