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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Don't Take Anything Personally

Some words of wisdom I'd like to program into my brain: if you look at the actions and feedback from others with your reflection in almost full view, it's almost impossible to not take things personally. As of late, I've taken a lot of stuff personally, and I must say, it makes me angry. Whether or not I'm angry at myself or others, I don't really know. It might be both.

I find it very difficult to distance myself from someone who's sharply criticizing something I've done and constantly uses the word, "you." I know there's a big difference between criticizing the work and the person, but it's hard to know which is which in the heat of the moment. If anything, my wild imagination thinks this person is going to hold a grudge and never forgive what I have done. This is not just some disagreement; this seems like disapproval.

I can recall in college making a slight half-joke about a recent show to a reporter, not really thinking what I said was mean-spirited or cold. Well, after the article ran, I received an incredibly terse message from somebody I respected and did not mean to speak ill of. The vibe I got from him was of pure anger and an implication that he wasn't going to forget what I had done. I thought I had accidentally broken the code I'd been told about my industry of choice ("don't burn bridges"). Now I had to pay for it. (Of course, in the following years, I learned a whole lot more on the topic. There's a wide difference between not always getting along with everybody everyday and being a constant pain in the ass everyday.)

Maybe that's why I struggle with hoping to make an informed statement while also being in the moment. I've been chewed out one too many times by others for seemingly not knowing everything: not saying or doing the right thing at the right time. I do my research and think there is no problem in making safe assumptions when I can't find the answers anywhere else. But after getting ripped into for making an assumption, I wonder why I even bothered to say anything.

I know I can't physically make somebody mad, but I'm well aware of saying or doing something that can trigger anger. When you internalize so much of what you do and how others respond to your actions, it's hard to think there isn't a hidden agenda. I can have the kindest of intentions, but after receiving a harsh talking-to, it makes me think otherwise.

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