Taking a deep breath before continuing my next statement, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated during a conversation with a friend recently. Like several colleagues—and I’m using this association very loosely here—my friend was trying to convince me to participate in a campaign despite my clearly articulated political objections. I reached my final decision to forgo participation several weeks ago after an extended period of contemplation and somehow I found myself nearly a month after announcing my decision, still being questioned and recruited. It wasn’t until this conversation that I realized just how much time I spend actually explaining myself to other people. Whether it has been a dialogue regarding my seemingly complicated views on the fluidity of sexuality or decisions I’ve made about the trajectory of my career, I’ve found myself in conversations in which someone else is eager to force me to reconsider my decision before or—in many cases—without even making a serious effort to understand the rationale behind my position. I suppose what’s even more obnoxious is that in the vast majority of these conversations, I never actually invite the other person to offer me their opinions or to serve as a thought-partner. Somehow they invite themselves in and out of respect and sometimes curiosity, I patiently entertain their battery of questions and rants about why my positions might be wrong.
Let me be totally clear here; I deeply believe in the power of cultivating community—the practice of surrounding ourselves with colleagues, friends, family, and partners who can see things we can’t or serve as mirrors when we need them. What I don’t appreciate is the intrusive and quite frankly demanding behavior others tend to demonstrate when they want me to change my position on a topic and make attempts to coax me into doing so by badgering me with empty inquiries. I’m typically more than willing to engage in a conversation about my beliefs but a healthy conversation for me, consists of a give and take not a “take it or I’ll shove it down your throat” approach.
The most recent quarrel with my friend helped me to realize that I spend way too much time and energy explaining myself to others who actually have no authority whatsoever to compel me to do so. Sometimes when people question me about my positions and continue to ask “why, why, why?” after I’ve explained myself already the only answer left is “Because I said so…”
There’s agreeing, disagreeing and agreeing to disagree, but there’s also something known as minding your damn business and when people choose the last option more often there’s little to no need for anyone to select one of the other three.