I’m not someone who likes to create a fuss. I don’t complain at restaurants when I’m served bad food. I don’t tell people off when they are late for a meeting and I’m the one who almost always says sorry just to diffuse a petty argument. Ideally, I prefer to keep confrontations at bay. Creating a fuss over little things just messes with my mental peace as I’m left thinking about it for a long time afterwards. I don’t like that which is why I usually let things slide.
My parents and now my husband too often tell me that I need to speak up when something bothers me. I tell them that a conversation about it is the last thing I need. Suppose I know I have been served stale food at a restaurant and I talk to the staff about it. They won’t simply admit to it and apologize. Instead, what will ensue is a long and often pointless monologue about why it might appear so but in reality isn’t the case. No thank you. I will save myself the headache and simply push the plate away and not visit that particular restaurant again.
But my husband argues that by keeping quite about such misbehaviors, I’m letting it continue in my life. Let’s take the same being served stale food case. My husband believes that if I were to summon the manager and demand an explanation, he would look into it and would most probably have my order replaced. And I’m sure he is right but the amount of commotion it would take to summon the manager and the fact that I’d have to be sufficiently indignant about it are, for me, best avoided. I can’t explain the feeling but it just takes so much energy to stir up all that fuss. I’d rather save my energy for things that matter.
I’m not being an idealist when I say that you have to pick your battles. But doing so ensures a lot less stress in life. If you go about arguing and fighting with every cab driver, every waiter, every help-desk officer, every vendor (you get the drift), you are mentally draining yourself and in the end you won’t even have accomplished anything substantial. Maybe saved fifty rupees on the cab fare or gotten a free drink to compensate for the lousy service, sure, but for me they are just not worth it.
I wasn’t always like this. When I was growing up I too would speak up when I thought I was being wronged. Over time, I just got tired. I realized people are stubborn and don’t like to be contradicted. It’s met with a lot of resistance and even anger. I simply got exhausted of trying to reason out things or repeating the same thing over and over again to people who simply refused to budge from their stance.
Now, I tell my parents and my husband that I’m saving my energy for the “bigger” fights – fights that matter with people or for causes I care about. I might sound like an enlightened person or, worse, a showoff. Some of my friends roll their eyes and sigh when I tell them that this is my mantra in life but I really believe life is too short to spend it arguing over petty things and thus feeling terrible all the time. There will be a lot of things that aren’t right around you and you can’t fix them all nor should you try, unless it really matters to you.
However, I also understand where my parents and husband are coming from. For people who believe in “doing the right thing” and “changing things one person at a time”, it can be difficult to keep quite when they feel they are being treated unfairly. Their argument that unless you speak up, shit will continue to happen is logical too. A lot of times your complacent, make-peace nature works to your disadvantage and people will take you for granted and that’s definitely not nice.
I can see the lure of speaking up when something is problematic or unjust. Even though you can’t ensure it won’t happen again, you are not letting someone get away with bad behavior and that can be oddly satisfying. I guess it depends on the kind of person you are and how much you are able to tolerate or handle.
In my case, rather than putting someone in his place I find distancing myself from the said person or the situation a lot more convenient. It’s just so much easier and less vexing to walk away and not let minor incidents take up space in your head. And that’s what I choose to do. I just don’t want to get embroiled in issues and try to argue my way out of them. On a different note, I’m also a firm believer in karma and that helps me deal with difficult people. I walk away knowing that karma will eventually take care of what I can’t.
The writer loves books, movies, pizza, and the weekend and believes there is nothing a cup of tea can’t solve. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.