Judgement and baggage, bravado! Oh my!

Things about me that make me “weird”:

  • don’t watch TV
  • don’t eat meat
  • don’t eat much fried or sweet food
  • don’t drink coffee
  • don’t drink alcohol
  • rarely drink other delicious crap (I miss you, chai latte!)
  • avoid plastic
  • don’t typically spend much time, energy, money on “girl” things (hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, purses)

I have been judged for all of these things. I’ve been spoken to harshly for all of them (some more often or more recently than others) and ostracized at one point or another for most.

Finally I’ve learned that those sorts of reactions are not about me.

Many people are defensive about what they’re eating when I’m with them. But the thing is—unless you’re my son or you’ve hired me to help you with your eating, I’m not concerned about your diet.

Your defensiveness comes from something in you. You feel like you should be eating differently. You feel like you would like to be eating what you think I think you should be eating and you’re not.

Some people take that discomfort and explode it out onto me. They assume I’m taking a position of moral superiority and try to defend themselves and knock me down a notch.

The thing is: there’s evidence of this defensiveness all over the place, not just in immediate reaction to a personal situation.

Bumper stickers I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks:

  • Yours may go fast but mine can go anywhere (on a Jeep)
  • My [dog/kid/weaponry] [is smarter than/can beat up/can kill] your honor student
  • Lots of creative ways to kill a back window stick family

The backlash against people (usually women) who are competent at Pinterest-type crafting and baking is enormous. So is the backlash against people who do maybe silly creative work (videos online and such).

People. It’s OK for other people to have interests and strengths that you don’t have. You have interests and strengths that they don’t have.

If you feel shame about not having their skills, that’s your baggage, not their bravado.

Shall we get into motives for a moment?

Crossfitters, vegans, runners/triathletes/obstacle racers, MLMers, Realtors among others have a reputation for talking incessantly about their Thing.

Why do people talk a lot about A Thing?

Maybe they’re insecure and bragging about their Thing makes them feel a little bit better for a moment. (I wasn’t intending to talk about penises, but when I went back to edit, you could make it go there if you need to.)

Maybe they don’t actually like the Thing but they really want to like it so they keep doing it and keep talking about it to talk themselves into it.

Or maybe they’re just really excited about their Thing.

When I talk a lot (maybe too much?) about a thing, it’s usually because that thing has taken over my brain. This thing that I’m trying with my kids at work. This thing that is going really really well or really really badly at home. This thing that is perplexing that I’m trying to solve. This thing that I’ve gotten into and am suddenly loving. This thing that challenges my thinking. This thing that just delighted me and I want to share my joy.

Regardless, if it’s not something you’re interested in hearing or talking about a lot, politely set a boundary. But you don’t need to assume negative intent, and it might not be about them in the first place—it might be about you.

So. Let people be good at stuff that you’re not good at without putting them down. We can’t all do All The Things—there’s not enough time (and truly, are you interested in doing all of it??). Skill you wish you had? Work on it. Otherwise? Be glad someone else is doing it.

Leave a Comment