Monday, February 28, 2011

let's not assume misery

Lately I've been noticing more how people assume that I'm unhappy in my situation. Not because I seem miserable (I hope!) but because apparently the default is that certain activities must be unpleasant.

"Brussels sprouts?! Oh that sounds like an awful breakfast your bf made you!"

Nothing really must be unpleasant! And I'd like to think I've come some distance toward being able to do more and more things without being miersable about them.

For example, this morning at work (which I love going to!) I mentioned that I had been studying all weekend for the MPRE, which is a part of the bar exam. It's not as challenging as the rest of the bar, but preparing for it did dominate my weekend. One of my co-workers said something like, "Oh, that must have been a chore! It'll all be over soon."

How do I respond to this? It was certainly intense, but it wasn't a chore. In fact, I sort of got into it and even told my boyfriend how much I was enjoying getting back into study mode. I don't mind the reading and having 5 more days of it is neither too long nor too short a time for delving into the task.

I'm sure Donna at work was just being nice, but it was sort of awkward for me.

I left the office an hour early to keep working on bar stuff, and ran into my lovely flatmate and fellow Buddhist, L. I mentioned how I got out early and she commented on how great it must have felt to be able to get up from my desk and say, "Well, I'm outta here!"

No, hahaha, no no no, I like being at work! Going from one interesting task (work) to another (driving) to a third (changing out of business attire) to a fourth (prepping for the MPRE) does not mean I am fleeing one thing or dreading another. It is just life! And it is not unpleasant!

When you are a kid at summer camp, every activity is an activity. There is wake-up, breakfast, cabin cleaning, crafts, athletics, lunch, etc. Cabin cleaning is just one more activity. It's just another part of the day. it's not necessarily awful or a punishment or the worst thing on the schedule. Sometimes it's down-right fun! :)

My bf posted on his facebook about how, despite landing a $1000 fenderbender and having his house robbed 10 days ago, he's having a really fantastic 2011 so far. Smilie-face.

Hooray! :D Happiness! [Maybe I am part of that fantasticness...?]

But instead, the comments started coming in about how that sounds miserable and how awful that all seems, and how sorry people were. Or how they wondered if he was being sarcastic.

He was not being sarcastic; he was being genuinely joyful despite these unanticipated events. And all these well-meaning people were saying "sorry" for him in his cheery optimism, condolences for his high spirits!

I know, I know. "But they mean well..." Yeah, they do. All these people. Sometimes I just announce things ("I went to the store and saw a lot of milk!" or "There are two clouds in the sky and they look fluffy!" or "I put this blue candy in my mouth and it was very sour!") and quite frequently my ex would say with full sympathy, "It's not easy being you, is it."

Eh? I am observing! I am not complaining!

Hahahaha. Ok. This whole post is sort of a complaint I guess, so now I am complaining. There. :P But really, my feelings at most amount to frustration. They edge closer to confusion, mainly at how best to respond to all these things.

Do I have to scamper about saying gleefully, "I love my work! I love being at work! It is my joy and I look forward to the rest of my career in this same avenue! Also I left an hour early today."? No, haha, then the assumption might be that I am miserable because I am no longer at the office.

Dear readers, do you have any suggestions?


  1. When people assume I'm talking about things in a negative slant, I just assure them that I'm not. For instance, I was in a really intense mood and I said "Sometimes I feel so...dangerous." and someone was like "oh that's terrible!" and so I said "WHAT?!" and then went on to tell them why it wasn't terrible and just how hilariously kickass it was to FEEL dangerous. Hehe, it's actually pretty funny when it happens.

    Though sometimes I'm not sure how to reassure people when they're actually going through tough times. I want to say something that gets across and makes them feel better, but without aiming at a sympathetic feeling. I don't want to say I'm sorry, in the sense that I feel bad that you feel bad, but rather hey you're awesome and I love ya and things will be okay. Sometimes this is difficult in serious situations, though--so I end up just saying something akin to "I'm sorry to hear that" as a last resort. Thankfully I can come up with un-sorry replies most of the time but man, sometimes it can get rough! Do you ever run into situations like that?

  2. Great insight, thanks for posting this. I like your method for replying to those assumptions of terribleness.

    As for consoling others, I sometimes wonder if I am having the same problem as you. I think a lot of silent listening is helpful, and doesn't pin me into making any statements. Other times I say things like, "Wow, that sounds intense!" which is pretty neutral. It's a challenge alright!

    Hahaha :)

    I think I cave pretty often to urges to say things the other person might not want to hear, though. Like, "Nothing is forever," and "you never know what the final outcome of this situation will be, if something wonderful will come out of it 2 days from now, 2 years from now." I think when people want to be petted and fussed over I am not always going to do that for them.

    Feed their ego? Or pretend I am some great Teacher or whatever bullshit and give them a Lesson because I am So Very Wise? Gahhhh... hahaha :)