Alright, so it might not be the greatest gift you can give someone…I mean, birth, salvation, a new puppy, a copy of Fight Club on Blu-Ray…those are probably greater gifts. But there is something that ranks pretty closely.
Before I give you the answer, let me show you how I arrived at this conclusion and dangle you through this post. Sorry, friend.
As a highly-analytically-minded individual, I often enjoy shouting “WHY WHY WHY” at myself whenever I observe something troubling or unsettling in my mind, or simply whenever I feel like there is a better, deeper answer.
I was at the bank the other day trying to wire EUR 550 from my account to the account of the place I will be living in Austria. Because the phrase “wire euros from dollars internationally” don’t seem to resonate with any part of me, I ended up having to go to the bank three times after failed wires, additional wiring fees, and unreadable accounts.
The wire wasn’t going through, and to my absolute horror, no one was able to tell me why.
“Hmm…well, the numbers are all correct, it really should be working”
“Yeah, we checked the numbers, it’s all here. It should have worked.”
“Well, there is one spelling mistake, maybe that’s what happened. The numbers were correct. Should have worked.”
Well, dearest new-bank-friends, it obviously didn’t work no matter how correct the numbers were. I don’t think one spelling mistake will make it all appear. So I got really frustrated, especially after the second time.
Coming home in sloppy tears, I sat down to observe the feelings that were raging beneath my not-so-composed face. Was I sobbing because I was just frustrated it didn’t work? Was it because I was stressed that the deadline is in 9 days to get this transferred? Was I angry because I didn’t want to pay the additional fees that result when things fail and I have to resend things? Is it that money means that much to me? Was I anxious because I didn’t want to be a burden to my Austrian landlords and have this stigma of “inadequate American fool” attached to me before they met me?
After a couple more bouts of shouting “WHY WHY WHY” at myself, I arrived at the conclusion that It was because I didn’t feel as if I were being taken serious. This was not just the bank’s fault, or the billions of people I was emailing in order to figure out the problem, although I didn’t feel as if they were taking me very serious. It was that I wasn’t taking me serious.
My self-talk went something like this:
“Josie, you aren’t old enough to know how to do this.”
“Josie, this is wayyyy over your head, you don’t know anything about finance.”
“Josie, you’re not a professional, how could you argue with these people?”
“Josie, you shouldn’t bother your Austrian landlords, they have enough on their plate to deal with Americans who can’t figure things out.”
It wasn’t that I was tearing myself down, I wasn’t hating on myself or despising myself, I was simply being what I thought was “truthful about the situation on hand”. But it was me not taking me serious. I had been subconsciously treating myself like a poser, so that’s how I felt.
And I realized something; one of my main motivators in my life is to be taken serious. And one of the greatest gifts someone can give me personally is to take me serious. On the same note, the greatest insult someone can pay me is to make me feel small and insignifcant and not taken seriously.
So much feeds into this. I don’t get frustrated when things don’t work; I get frustrated when people don’t take my problems at face value, when they make me feel as if I were inadequate.
I used to think that all I wanted in life was to be independent. Why do I sometimes feel claustrophobic in the house I share with my parents? Why do I sometimes take it out on them? My parents operate on a laissez-faire parenting style now that I am in college. They let me be independent, they don’t make me check in with them, they don’t tell me what to do (besides the dishes, which I can respect). I have independence, but yet I still sometimes feel frustration and I sometimes feel restless.
“WHY WHY WHY”
It’s because living with my parents while my friends live on their own in their own apartments that they spend hideous amounts of paychecks on rent for, if I’m not careful and mindful, it can make me treat myself like a poser. It can make me say, “Jos, you’re still a kid”. And that makes me antsy.
The desire for independence is a mask; I don’t think that it is the fundamentally core motivator for anyone, I don’t see people wanting, desiring whole-heartedly to be entirely left to their own devices and to only rely upon themselves all the time. I see people who, yeah, want to be able to make their own decisions and live their life without being dependent upon others, but more want it to be believed that they can do this if they wanted to.
So here it is, what you’ve waited for since you first laid eyes on the title of this post; ranking just behind giving someone Fight Club or the gift of life is the gift of taking someone serious.
I think that’s why “playing pretend” and “playing house” is such an appealing past time for kiddos. We all want to be treated with respect, we all want to be treated as if we can do life if we want to, on our own terms. We want to be believed in. But we want to stop telling ourselves we’re just playing.
So I have to be really cautious, and you should too. Because I know, I really know how devastating it can be to deny someone this. To wave someone off as being too needy, or too emotional, or too dependent.
Don’t do this to people. Especially don’t do this to yourself.
You and I are both adequate for this activity of being human.
(also I got the EUR 550 wired to Austria [insert heel-click here])
Peace and Blessings,