Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I am sometimes sarcastic.

Recently I've been listening to the soundtrack for a Broadway musical almost nonstop. Not sure if you've heard of it, but it's called Hamilton. Why did no one tell me how great this is? Maybe it's just not really well known. I'm sure tickets are easy to get and don't require selling a kidney to afford.

I want to make it clear: this is sarcasm. It’s astonishing how many people that actually know me continue to take what I say at face value, with the utmost seriousness. I once jokingly “threatened” a friend about going to an overcrowded, mediocre restaurant, saying I would throw away the Christmas gifts I had bought her. In reality, I’d go wherever she wanted and not care as long as food ended up on my plate. Despite the clear intent, a third party was aghast, and called me every name he could think of. Thankfully, he didn’t think for too long. (Imagine what it’s like to go through life with such a literal sense of humor. I hope to never endure any kind of cognitive injury that would cause that.)

Here’s some advice, friends: don’t entertain people who consistently see the worst in you.
These people will pretend that they want to help you, as if you’re some puzzle that needs completion--as if they have the missing pieces. This isn’t for your benefit, but rather, for their satisfaction. Yes, it’s helpful and healthy to have people in your life who will be honest with you when you’re not being your best self. Sometimes we need people to tell us to step back because we’re acting a little crazy and letting our anxieties get the best of us, or that we’re losing our focus on goals.
No one is so self-aware and well-adjusted that they don’t need this kind of cheerleader in their corner. If you think that you’re that person, you’re wrong and could benefit from some honesty from the people close to you. I say this from a place of love--you can be a better person.
(That’s another joke.)
I think of it like this: imagine that you’ve hired a personal trainer. This trainer tells you, “I just know if I don’t make you work out, you won’t do it”--even if you’ve faithfully gone to the gym and worked out independently every day. Or maybe after a week of clean eating, you have a slice of pizza, and the trainer exaggerates your indulgence by saying, “You’re always eating junk and that's why you're fat." They criticize every roadblock and misstep as "just who you are as a person," because they believe that you'll never succeed without their direct influence.
You’d probably want to stop paying a trainer as unproductive as this one is, right? You would definitely, at the very least, lose motivation to keep working out. A trainer this critical and pessimistic is no more helpful than a trainer who makes excuses for you and tells you that you’re doing great, even when you see no progress toward your goals.
Now imagine those same situations, but with a trainer who is understanding, positive, and productive. Had some pizza? Hey, you're human and pizza is delicious. Just focus on moderation and make sure you keep cheat meals on schedule. Skipped a workout? Fitness takes effort and no one else can do it for you. Rest days are important, but rest days should also be on schedule. These are encouraging words of advice, guidance, and motivation. This type of feedback is empowering. It reminds you that you are in control of your actions and you can reach your goals if you put forth the effort.
Being told you’re awful is not at all the same as being told you can do better.
So, why do we allow people we call friends to act like the first trainer toward us? Maybe you’re comfortable in long friendships that are ingrained into your life, or maybe you’re simply afraid of losing people who are in your circle. Maybe we don’t even see the difference in their treatment of us and what real encouragement is supposed to look like. With enough naysaying, we may start to believe their insults. Telling your friend that they’re awful isn’t tough love--it’s just mean.
You can guarantee that exactly one person will be with you throughout your entire life. That person is you. I’m not saying that to be depressing or overly harsh. It’s just something as reliable as death, taxes, and losing your debit card in a parking lot because you just tossed it into a bag after stopping in a drive-through and telling yourself, “I’ll just put it back later.” (Another inevitability is realizing how many companies have that information when you cancel the card and start getting phone calls.)
Anyway, my point is: all our lives, we will (or should) strive to be better people. We have to learn to live with ourselves. Having so much negativity in your life, no matter the source, only makes it harder. Whether they’re taking your sarcasm literally by assuming the worst about you, or constantly cutting you down to make you fit in a mold they deem fit, they don’t actually produce any positivity or radical changes in your life.
I’ve discovered that I am filled with enough self-doubt that I don’t actually need someone else telling me I’m right. I need someone to tell me that I’m not at my best, and I can be better. However, this requires constructive criticism and sincere encouragement--and that requires my friends to look past my complications and downfalls to see that I really am trying to do better.


  1. This is good, and I love you. Sarcasm and all. (P.S. even the title is sarcastic. Sometimes? Hahaha alllll the time. And that’s why you are you!)

  2. I mean, I'm not sarcastic when I'm asleep. But even my facial expressions are sarcastic.