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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

That Kind Of Person

Despite what you might have read in various popular memes I am not an energy vampire. I don't "gain energy from being around other people" or think a book is a doorstop. I'm perfectly happy being alone, being quiet, reading, and doing the thousand and one miraculous things "only introverts do!" I just happen to like people.

Humans are pack animals. In every era of our history we have come together to build societies. We created written and spoken languages to communicate. We created ways of preserving our history. Humans are a We not a Me, and I think we're better like that. Individuals, clever as they are, can never to everything.

Sure, one person can do a whole lot. They can even do multiple things at once (although not without some loss of productivity), but they can't do EVERYTHING at once. They can't be everywhere at once. I can't even blog and talk on the phone at the same time so why should I expect anyone anywhere to be able to be everywhere?

I love it when people are supportive. Not just supportive of me, but of everyone.

Like the one girl at the gym who is ready to cheer on every little victory, from losing a pound to holding a plank for 30 seconds to doing 100 push-ups in a minute. She's amazing. She can be enthusiastic and excited for every good thing in your life. She makes going to the gym something people look forward to rather than dread because they know she'll be there instead of some nasty person commenting on "whales gasping for air."

Or the author in my critique group who taught me how to type a cheerleader *\o/* because she uses them for everyone. Every time someone met a word count goal, finished a chapter, finished a book, sold a book...she's cheered for everyone in our critique group while quietly publishing several novels herself. Not everyone even knows she's a published author with a six-book deal, because she's cool like that. She'd rather cheer than brag.

And then there are the other people. The ones who wouldn't lift a finger to help you if you were drowning. The kind of people who can walk past a dying person without blinking, or casually erase you from an important meeting because they thought your name was a typo. The people who are so wrapped up in themselves that no amount of tears, logic, or begging will get them to help you or even do their job. Those are not good people.

I mean, I shouldn't have to say this because it's obvious, but those really are not the kind of person anyone should aspire to be like. Those are horrible maggots of humanity who ought to be humanely put down so they stop wasting our oxygen.

... that came out a little harsh. Maybe I was dealing with customer service to long today? Maybe. Just maybe.

Here's the thing. At the end of the day - even at the end of a bad day - I still like people. I think everyone has a potential to do amazing things with their life. Everyone has some beauty in them, some great art, and the ability to save lives if only they'll let that part of them lead the way. If all you care about is making your life easier and getting what you want then, well... you're not really a functional adult, are you? That's how babies act.

My one-year-old is full on in that stage. Whatever she wants she wants Right Now! and she will scream and fuss until you give her what she wants. She doesn't have a fully developed brain yet. She doesn't understand abstract concepts like "Mommy is her own person." or "Sister wants this thing right now." All she can comprehend is her own wants and needs, all usually based off of very primal things like hunger, fatigue, or pain. I have complete faith in my little savage that she'll outgrow this. Sometime in the next few years she'll start considering other's feelings and understanding that they will have valid opinions and thoughts that aren't the same as hers.

Maybe a good personal check for behavior would be to ask yourself "Am I acting like a toddler right now or am I acting like a responsible, respectful adult?"

And, you know, there's going to be times when you're going to say, "I'm being a toddler right now. I'm sick. I'm depressed. Today has sucked and I choose to sit here in the bathtub eating ice cream while I watch A-Team for the thousandth time instead of washing the dishes because I deserve a day off and the mold on the dishes hasn't gained sentience yet." And if the mold is old enough to vote you can always turn it into a Nobel winning science experiment, so chin up.

But most the time as an adult you should act like an adult. You need to do your job because when you don't the whole enterprise falls apart. You ruin someone's day. You hurt people by slacking off.

Don't be that guy.

Be the cheerleader at the gym. Be the person who has a nice word for everyone. Be the person who is willing to spend the extra ten seconds and hold a door for someone with full hands. Smile. Make eye contact. Treat people like people, not furniture. Don't dismiss people because they make less money than you or don't have a name that makes headlines. Treat everyone with respect, even if they don't treat themselves with respect. They deserve it. You deserve it. And at the end of the day the world would be a lot better place if more people were building things up rather than tearing them down.


  1. Such a great post! I needed to read this today because, lately, I've been acting like a toddler. Ugh.