Oops, I Became “That” Person

We all have these ideas in our heads about the person we never want to be. “That” person. The person we loathe. The person we despise with all our being. The person we swear we absolutely never will be. No one wants to be that person, right?

I had those notions, too.

And then I became that person

And do you know what? I’m glad I did, because for me, it was actually a good thing.

If you know me, it’s no surprise that I care very deeply for animals. For the longest time, I held the belief that if someone ever gave up their animal, they were an awful person. I consider myself to be a pretty open-minded person who tends to give others the benefit of the doubt. Except for that. That was one big thing that was super hard for me to look past.

Then, last year, some crappy stuff happened, life got messy, and I had to give up some of my animals. A lot of them, actually. I’d become that person, but, for good reason, I thought. I had good intentions and was doing everything right until life happened and, as hard as I tried, it just wasn’t working. For the sake of myself and my animals, I knew the best decision was for them to be elsewhere and me and my husband worked hard to ensure that they went to excellent rescue organizations who would treat them the way they deserved and needed to be treated. I believed I had made the best decision possible for myself and for the animals.

That’s a good enough reason as any, right? Wait, though. What makes my reason any better than anyone else’s reason? Then I realized, it really doesn’t. That’s life. As hard as we try, sometimes things just don’t go the way we expect or plan for them to. And because of that, we sometimes have to make hard decisions that we really, really don’t want to make, but that we know will be the best, in the long-run. That was me. And that’s a lot of the people that also have to give up an animal. Not everyone, I’m sure, but many.

You know how they say that you can never really understand someone until you walk a mile in their shoes? Well, that was my aha moment and the point at which I started walking in those shoes. After I came to this realization, I felt awful for being so judgmental in the past. Who the hell was I to be so quick to write someone off as this horrible person because they had made a decision that I didn’t agree with 100%. Another “that” person that I had become. Oh. My. God.

Now, I tend to look at people’s actions and decisions a whole lot differently. I have to remind myself constantly that I have no idea — NO IDEA — what other people’s lives are like. I have no place to judge. And I think I’ve gotten a whole lot better at showing more compassion and understanding — two things that our world can definitely use a whole bunch more of.

Do you have a bunch of “those” people on a checklist in your head? Now’s the time to get rid of them. I think you’ll find that compassion will naturally fill those spaces in your head and that you’ll look at others a lot differently — and for the better.

 

 

 

Don’t be Flour

dont be flour

Math is not my strong suit.

At all.

Algebra 2 brought down my GPA in high school, and I couldn’t really care less about why x+y=z, but here’s one equation that I know is true and (should be) proven by some complicated math theory that begins with the letter “P”:

Labels = expectations = disappointment. 

(I know. Not technically an equation. I told you I suck at math.)

Labels are okay for things like boxes in the garage, medications, and containers of food. But one place labels definitely don’t belong is on people.

My top three most loathsome labels right now are vegan, mentally ill, and millennial. I’ve been labeled as all three. Yes, I do my best to live a compassionate lifestyle that does the least harm to our planet and to other beings. Yes, I suffer from anxiety and depression. And, yes, I was born in 1985. But, I do not feel like I fit the grossly stereotyped labels of vegan, mentally ill, and millennial.

As you open a bag labeled “flour,” you expect to see flour. And you do. If you look at a person labeled “gay,” you expect (insert your expectation here). And that’s where the problem lies. My expectation of a “gay” person is different from my grandmother’s expectation of a “gay” person, and her expectation of a “gay” person is different from my boss’s. There’s a lot of room for interpretation, expectation, and ultimately, disappointment.

To me, my grandmother, and my boss, though, expectations of flour are all the same: White. Powdery. Used to make bread, pancakes, muffins, and other foods. Simple, straight-forward, and without much room for the possibility of anything else. There’s nothing exciting about flour. It’s always been flour and it will always be flour. It’s boring, and we may even be disappointed that it’s not chocolate, instead.

Imagine for a moment, that you’re ruffling through your cupboard looking for the bottle of vanilla to make cupcakes for your kid’s birthday party. During the search, you come across a brown paper sack shoved in the corner of the cabinet, labeled “FLOUR.” You don’t remember buying flour in that type of sack. And whose writing is that — you never write in all caps like that? But, you shrug it off. It says flour, so it must be flour. But, what if inside that sack labeled “FLOUR” is really a stash of chocolate candy, disguised by your clever husband as flour, to keep you, his choco-holic wife, from eating his finest Belgian treats? I bet you’d be pretty stoked if you decided to take a peek in that bag, after all, wouldn’t you?

Here’s the thing about people: We’re not flour. We don’t stay the same. We can and do grow and change. That’s what makes us human.

When you pass up the “FLOUR” because it’s not what you think you were looking for, you miss out on the chocolate.

Let’s try to stop putting labels on ourselves and each other.

Don’t be flour. Just be you.

 

What have you been labeled? What are some of your least favorite labels we give to each other?