Today was kind of a weird day. It was neither good nor bad, but something happened that’s been bugging me for hours and skewing the day towards bad.
Let me preface this by saying that I fully understand that my problem lies within my head – I’m the one that’s turning this into a “thing,” but I don’t quite know how to stop it. And for the record, I’ve written and re-written this post about 4 times so far today, so yeah, it’s really bothering me.
The incident in question happened (naturally) on Facebook. I know what you’re thinking – don’t take things that people say on Facebook at face-value; you can’t tell their tone. But I don’t think that’s the case here.
Without going into deep specifics, someone that I’ve been getting closer to and looking up to as a mentor of sorts said something terrible within a conversation we were having. It was the type of awful thing that can’t really be misconstrued. This thing made me stop dead in my tracks (because of course I was walking while reading) and stare at the phone in disbelief. When I finally regained composure and came up with a response, I pretended as though this person had never even said this horrible thing. But they did. And it was bad. And now I’m second-guessing everything.
It would probably be useful to admit that this person is a fellow volunteer, and while the comment doesn’t affect me nor the organization we work with, it was disheartening to see this person post such a hateful thing. Admittedly, I have some misconceptions about my fellow volunteers, and I know that’s my fault and not theirs. Also, here’s a confession for those of you who don’t know me in person: I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Not in all ways, but in terms of work and a lot of things in my personal life, and included within that is my moral compass and how I think people should generally behave. This is [partly] why I don’t swear (unless you consider “fudgenuggets,” “frick,” and “balls” to be swear words), and it’s also why you’ll never see me acting a fool on the internet – I have a strong sense of what is appropriate to say and what I can say to specific people. So it’s driving me nuts to see someone who I so strongly identify with making such awful, hateful comments on the internet.
It’s been bothering me so much all day that I had to start writing things down to clear my head. Once I started to write down my list of things to remember about my fellow volunteers, I started to feel better. I have no idea why I’m putting them on pedestals, but I am, and that’s not fair to them. I still love every single one of them with whom I’ve come in contact, but I can’t help but feel like I’m pulling back from this particular person now. And maybe that’s okay – maybe we got too close, too fast. I’m usually very quiet and cautious with people I’ve just met, but not in this case. I’m willing to accept the responsibility, and I’m fully in-tune with accepting that this is my problem and not theirs. The other person might not even know that what was said was offensive, even to someone it doesn’t directly affect. But even if they do know and just don’t care, it’s not really my place to say what’s right and what’s wrong; I’m not the morality police.
So it may have started out as a tree, became pulp and then was pressed into a piece of paper, but the note pictured above is the one thing that has calmed me down today. I guess you could say I’m having a bit of a crisis of conscience, and I’m trying so hard to not let it ruin my volunteer relationship with this person. But when someone you’ve come to look up to turns out to be something other than what they’d seemed, it’s hard. And I’m going to need to keep making little reminders like this one to remember that the problem really lies with me and not with them.