Like Jeph Jacques says:
You ought to expect better of people. It encourages you to be a better person yourself.
And yet there are those people.
The ones that keep asking me year after year when I will spend my holidays in Italy even if I keep saying year after year that I am up for discovering new places I have never been to before...
The list of topics could be a very long one, and yet, in the end, it is not important to list every kind of inattentive, inappropriate, tactless or plain boring question I get asked from people unaware of being inattentive, rude or just way too curious. People that are actually, at least in their mind, trying to be nice and to do small-talk. Or to show me that they are open-minded, interested, willing to know me better.
I know for sure that in the past I was used to getting absolutely annoyed by those questions. I took them personally, I felt mistaken, mistreated, attacked, put in a box. I let those questions define me and what I thought people were thinking about me because of the questions they were asking.
At least to some degree, I really was in a box.
And then, something made click, and I started to find the situation fascinating.
You could ask what do I find so fascinating in all this, after all.
Human nature is fascinating.
How people communicate is fascinating.
How human dynamics work is very fascinating indeed and all these patterns and all these questions, and also all the kinds of behavior those questions are related to, don't say anything about me.
The questions are not me being willing to travel, having decided to stay away from some popular social media, suffering from celiac disease or being vegan.
These questions say something about the people asking them. About how they think, how they feel, how they live, what they believe to be acceptable and right and convenient to ask and to say.
About whether or not they are good listeners and able to remember what people told them or what is important for someone they are talking to.
About whether or not they can think outside the box and imagine doing what they want to do and not what other people expect them to do and whether they can, therefore, accept that other people don't always try to keep up with the Joneses or the Kardashians.
About whether or not they can show empathy and some caring with sensitive topics that may not affect them but that can be very relevant and present for someone else.
About whether or not they are curious or get defensive when confronted with something (or someone) different from what they consider normal and "natural" and whether or not they even ask themselves what "normality" means in the first place or how it should look like.
Not to mention whether or not normality exists. (Note: this would be a very long off-topic question and we will not go there today)
Those behaviors say something about other people, not about me or the life I chose to live.
It says that maybe they have not so much imagination or are afraid of not fitting in, or can't discuss topics like diseases, aging, death and such without feeling uncomfortable, or that they judge something they don't know just while listening to the hype of the moment or what their cousin Jimmy says.
It may say that for them belonging at any cost is the most important thing, or that they were not exposed to a bigger number of alternatives and options during their life or that they actually were and they discarded them, or that they could have a short attention span... I will never know for sure, and at the end of the day, it doesn't matter.
Why should I bother about this? What for?
And what should you?
To give your positive or negative attention to something is a way of giving energy. The most damaging form of behavior is withholding your attention.
The next time someone asks you a question that makes you feel typecasted, blamed for no reason, forgotten, mistreated or simply annoyed, take a deep breath and then relax and smile.
As long as you are able to stay calm and understand that it is not about you and you are just the mirror for other people fears, insecurities, shortcomings and hidden bias, you will be totally fine, in whatever direction the conversation may go.
Because you are free. You are free if you want to.
Nobody can put you in a box if you don't let them.
Tags: Bad questions, Hidden bias, Diversity, Emotional freedom, Small-talk, Communication, Celiac disease, Quotes
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