One day many years ago, a classmate of mine pulled me aside on our way out of a college class. I think it was History of the English Language. The class had been engaged in a lively debate about something I don’t remember; what I do remember was thinking that perhaps I was overly obnoxious in stating my opinions on whatever subject it was (I’m assuming it had something to do with feminism or Christianity, as those were hot-button topics for me in college.) But instead of the girl confronting me about my uber-assertive stance on whatever it was, she thanked me. She thanked me for ‘saying what everyone else was thinking, but many were afraid to vocalize’.
That was one of the best compliments I’ve ever recieved.
At some point in the last ten years, I lost that voice. Blame it on my dislike of confrontation, or on the silence that typically comes with being a non-tenured teacher. Fortunately, I’m getting that voice back.
I promised a rant something along the lines of ‘why I’m annoyed by some people on the Rick Steves message board’. I’m not going to write that rant, because there is a difference between having a voice and being a jerk. I am choosing the former. What I will say–and I feel this goes along with having a voice, though correct me if I’m wrong–is this:
I was annoyed last night because someone–one single person I’ve never met–was stupidly rude to me on a message board. I was very frustrated, and immediately remembered a lot about the down side of all online travel (and non-travel) forums. However, I am not going to stop using said forum. There are dozens–nay, hundreds–of extremely helpful, knowledgeable people on those boards. I fully realize that I cannot control how others react to my honest questions. But I can control how I respond to all comments, both the helpful and the not-so-much.
This is not to say that it won’t continue to bother me. I wish we lived in a world where everyone followed ‘the golden rule’. I’m not religious in any way, but I think this one simple teaching is really all that the world needs as a guideline. Imagine if everyone actually treated others the way they would like to be treated. Admittedly, it is a difficult rule to follow. Even I waver in my ability to respond kindly to things that were not intended as kind. But I will continue to try. Wish me luck.
And speaking of luck–I’m going to try to talk my husband out of his need to add Prague to this next trip. I’ve been having a surprisingly hard time convincing him to change his mind about anything lately. It’s like he’s become all independent and confident and assertive.
I fear–and am honored–that he learned it by watching me!