Recently I was thinking about how people change and grow. I know there are some people who are pretty consistent and others who are maybe a little stagnant, but for a lot of people, I believe life experience changes and shapes us and our ideas about life all the time.
I would argue that who we were 10, 5 or even 1 year ago is sometimes incredibly different.
I was thinking about that idea in terms of how those changes impact how we interact with others. I think back to who I was in high school, college and even my first few years in the workforce and I know I said and did things that I would be so embarrassed by now. That’s part of life, right? Making mistakes and learning…
That’s all good, but what if our words and our actions from years ago still hurt people? How do we go back and apologize (if we realize) and what about the many things I’ve done or said that I don’t even remember or maybe didn’t realize affected someone?
I definitely have several memories of times when someone’s words or actions completely knocked the wind out of me.
This may be ridiculous, but I have an example from 4th grade – 2 examples actually. My teacher made an off-hand comment that none of us should weight more than 80 lbs in 4th grade. I weighed 100 lbs in 4th grade. I was tall and muscular. I will never forget the way those words hit me. I went home and immediately told my mom about it. Her careless words made me feel different in a bad way and I have never forgotten. This same teacher also made a comment about how no one wants to grow up to flip burgers. This was super offensive because my dad was a restaurant manager and I had seen him flip burgers multiple times. I also told my mom about that, and she said, “Oh, she doesn’t mean a manager. She means people who are just cooking…” I didn’t care though. My dad did flip burgers as a manager and I remember thinking she should have thought of that before opening her mouth. (Now, I’d like to stop and preface that she was a great teacher and I liked her class a lot. I also literally just ran into her at the grocery store a week and a half ago. She remembered me and caught up and it was a really sweet interaction.)
I use this example because those words have been with me since THE 4TH GRADE. That’s impact y’all.
I can’t help but wonder if my own carelessness has caused lasting damage.
There have been a few instances lately that have caused me to reflect and realize that I was too harsh and not as understanding as I should have been in past situations. At the time, I couldn’t know what I didn’t understand… but I wish I’d handled things differently. That’s hard for me to accept – that I wasn’t who I would want to be today, then.
I plan to reach out and apologize and just let those people know that I’m sorry and I want to do better in the future.
At the same time – I don’t think it’s healthy to feel bad for past things or to feel like you have to say the exact perfect thing all the time. That’s not realistic.
I think it’s good to think about this stuff. I am reminded to have empathy. I want to always try to understand and moving forward I want to be able to ask questions when I don’t. I’m also realizing that I would want forgiveness for my past carelessness or lack of understanding. I need to work on forgiving past hurt. I know that some of these situations that I’ve held on to are only affecting me because the other person or people involved have NO idea. They don’t know because I didn’t say anything. I want to do better at saying stuff now.
Even that’s hard though. Sometimes I am too sensitive or defensive and sometimes I feel like I need to come out guns blazing about my beliefs because I feel so attacked or judged. I’m working on being proud of and totally OK with my choices so that I don’t have to feel like I’m defending myself – because I simply don’t EVER have to defend myself.
I don’t know… I want to empathetic, understanding and truly listen to what others are struggling with. At the same time there’s a place for boundaries and I definitely struggle with that too – especially in family relationships.
It’s important to meet people where they are, while also protecting yourself and being true to you. Everyone is going to have struggles and hard times in life, and I want to always give people the benefit of the doubt.
I guess, if I’ve ever said or done something that was upsetting, I hope you would reach out and clarify it with me – or let me explain or apologize. I want to grow and be better and I really crave authentic relationships.
I definitely feel like relationships are hard for me in some ways, and I’m working hard to understand my role in some tough relationships and how to improve.
Does any of this make sense?