We’ve all done it: reduced people to a few pithy sentences.
“Oh Sara? She’s a total narcissist.”
“Jimmy? He is the most genuinely nice guy I’ve ever met. Real salt of the earth, that Jimmy.”
“Chad? He’s nice enough to your face, but he’s got something critical to say about everyone.”
“Marcia is all about being a good mom – and she really is a good mom.”
So today I was thinking about what people would say about me when describing me to others.
I can’t say that I know.
Sure, I have good qualities. I’m hard-working. Open-minded. Polite. Compassionate. Good at listening. Detail-oriented. Optimistic. Loyal.
There are other qualities I have a bit of. I like to think I’m generous, but I could be more generous. I like to think I’m kind, but I could be kinder. I like to think I have a good sense of humor, but sometimes I am just plain NOT funny, and/or I do not get your (“your” not meaning YOU, Internet) sense of humor which leaves me looking pinched and humorless. I like to think I’m thoughtful, but I could be more thoughtful. I like to think I’m a decent writer – even good, sometimes – but I could be much better.
But, of course, I also have bad qualities. (Sadly, these are easier to come up with.) I’m shrill. I have a quick temper. I am very anal neurotic OCD particular. I’m terrible at confrontation. Related: I cry easily. I’m a workaholic. I’m high-strung. Whiny. Pessimistic. (Yes, I know this one directly contradicts an item from the “good qualities” list.) So we might as well add: hypocritical. Critical of others. Self critical. Impatient. Bad at math, housework, following directions, folding laundry, and understanding legal- and IRS-ese. I’m skittish. Narcissistic (See: This blog). Shy. Thin-skinned. Vain. I have a terrible memory. I like TV too much. I leave books unfinished. I’m too frequently unshowered. I’m a horrible procrastinator. I like to eat more than I like to exercise. I’m irritatingly picky about food.
Oh my, I am depressing myself with this litany of negatives!
Let’s add one more: self-pitying.
Anyway. I am owning up to my short-comings. But they are not invisible. If you know me, you know about at least a few of these failings.
But what I’m concerned about is what you would say if you were talking about me to someone else. (See above RE: narcissism.)
Would you say, “That Mrs. D – she’s so polite!”
Or would you say, “Mrs. D? Well, she’s really high-strung and shrill.”
Possibly it would be a mix: “Mrs. D is a good listener, but don’t try to cook her anything – she’s really finicky about food.”
I guess I hope that my positives outweigh the negatives. As I mentioned, I recognize that I HAVE negative qualities. And some of them I try actively to work on. The crying, for instance. The being short with my husband. (Oh that wasn’t on the list? Well, it should be.) The exercising. The being judgmental.
I also try to keep improving upon or maintaining the good qualities and sort-of good qualities.
Maybe that’s all I can do. I’ll never be perfect, Internet. Believe me, this disturbs me greatly. (Delusional, that’s a bad quality too, yes?) No one will ever say about me, “She was the kindest/smartest/most generous/most whatever.” I will probably always get mixed reviews.
But I can continue to be as good a person as I know how to be. And all the while, I can work on the things that I can work on.
How do you hope people describe you behind your back?