There was a time, not too long ago, that my biggest priority in life was being smart. I had this thing in me that made me feel worthless if I couldn't win an argument. If I couldn't bring you to tears with my sarcasm and make myself bigger by making you feel smaller than I somehow wasn't worth the air I was breathing. As I moved on in life this attitude seemed to alienate me from people. It seemed that those around me didn't place as high a value on being right as I did. I rubbed people the wrong way and I didn't know why.
What has made me think back to all of this is the whole government thing going on. People are fighting, not just about that, but about any topic under the sun. The fight gets ugly. It gets mean. People give themselves permission to put down their humanity and compassion to win a battle of words with an acquaintance or friend. It makes me sad. Sometimes I stumble into these melees and come out wounded and confused. Didn't I used to be awesome at this? It did used to be my thing. These days though I find myself biting my tongue and wording and rewording responses before I post. In most cases I have to just leave the conversation. It has become too much for me.
Its not a question of could I win. That mean girl is still in there. Its just now I realize how insecure that girl was. I was on a mission to declare to the world that I was an intellectual. I was not to be trifled with. And I could stand on top of the castle of right and wave my flag triumphantly. What I couldn't seem to do was occupy the land of nice and the land of right at the same time.
It seems like such an unimportant thing to be nice, but when I look back on the people I admire they were all nice. They were and are compassionate, loving and kind. My heroes look nothing like me foaming at the mouth waiting to tear you to shreds with my clever come backs. I decided I didn't like how that looked anymore even if it felt temporarily awesome.
These days I couldn't care less if people think I am a super genius. I know a lot more than I did then. I am exponentially smarter than I used to be. What has changed is the fact that I don't need to convince anyone anymore. I am perfectly fine with people thinking I am an idiot when it comes to politics, science or current affairs. What I want is for people to walk away from an interaction with me and feel respected. I want them to see my heart and compassion before they get to know my wit and smarts. I want to be described as kind. So if I excuse myself from an argument or allow another person to talk down to me on the interwebs that's ok. Its more important to me that I can look back on it and know that I put my best foot forward. I want to know that I wasn't mean, nasty or insulting to get my point across. So what if I get my point across? People are more important that points. Their feelings should trump their politics. So if you ever get the feeling that I am ditzy or uninformed that's fine. I'll take that over mean any day.