Now that I’m retired, which makes me officially old, I don’t have to subject myself to opinions, about anything, with people I don’t know or don’t respect. That’s one of the BEST EVER things about retirement.
Back when I was working, often more than one job, I had to suck it up when someone (like a manager or important coworker) foisted their views on me. It didn’t matter what the view was, I had to smile, appear to agree, or at least not disagree, and act as if I wanted to hear more. Now, I can do things on my own and if someone in line at the grocery store tries to engage me in political conversation I just ignore them, totally ignore them.
HA! I don’t CARE if they think I’m not worried about the fate of the world, I don’t CARE if they think I’m ignorant or uninformed (because I didn’t listen to them I MUST be uninformed, right?) and I don’t CARE that they may be offended. If you don’t want to be offended, don’t bother people in the grocery store, or the bank or the library or wherever with your negative, gotta take sides, personal views on anything.
And I’m not picking on political activists here. There is a time and place to be effective. Pestering people who are trying to go about their daily life isn’t effective. Oh, sure, maybe you’ll get a “dialogue” going, you’ll get people to have a conversation with you because most people don’t have the spine to just ignore you. We are all socialized to be polite, to avoid confrontation (and I am all for that when it doesn’t accomplish anything positive, like arguing with your boss) so they will nod and even sometimes contribute. Sometimes they will disagree and both people will get a little heated and the other people in line will sigh and look around and shuffle their feet, or worse, will join in the argument and they all go away thinking they just did something valuable. They raised someone’s awareness, they informed someone about the right way to think about something.
I got news for you, buddy. Most of the time all those people walk away with is what a jerk you are for pushing your views on people who feel trapped in a public place. So, your political view (or religious view, or whatever you were pushing) will always be associated with some jerk in line at the grocery store.
There are venues for expressing and sharing opinions about anything. Use them.
The point is, since I no longer must be polite to someone because my job depends on it, I can just walk away from people who bug me! WALK AWAY. I never get into arguments with anyone because there is no reason. It’s not like I’m walking around looking for arguments. The point I’m making is exactly the opposite. I have an opportunity to contribute to a kinder, calmer atmosphere everywhere I go by NOT engaging in conversations with prickly, pushy people. It makes me feel much calmer, more in control and frankly…superior. Yeah. Superior. Superior to myself. I just learned some big lessons and I’m growing. Still growing-wow.
I’ve spent my life wrestling with an enormous lack of self-confidence, often resulting in self sabotage, and terrible life altering decisions to convince someone to love me. Sounds sad, doesn’t it? It is. Now, I don’t care who loves me or likes me or thinks whatever of me. I am who I am and I am building my self-worth and independence one wobbly block at a time.
What I have found is that by walking away I feel stronger. The first time I worked up the courage to act, and I’m not going into detail about the incident because that isn’t the point, I was trembling. Scared, heart hammering…that’s what it feels like when you can count on one hand the times in your life you changed your behavior. Really changed behavior. Knowing there were people looking at my retreating form I heard (in my head) all the comments “What a nutball!” “What an ignoramus! Doesn’t she even CARE about…fill in the blank…?” “What’s her problem?” and I did it anyway.
And I didn’t stop and explain. I didn’t do anything except keep walking. All day I trembled, thought of all the things I should have said, could have said. I had a good brisk walk to burn off the energy which I finally identified as fear. Plain old fear.
It didn’t matter what the discussion was, I need to emphasize that. The exchange was about me NOT doing what was expected, NOT engaging with someone to be polite, to please them. It was me walking away because I don’t give a shit who they think should be president, who what they think everyone should be doing about it, or what they think the catastrophic events of this administration are going to be. I don’t care if they think their religion is the one that is going to save my soul, or if they think the teller should be working faster or they think the price of groceries is too high and the checkout girl is probably putting in fake prices and pocketing the difference (I’m not kidding, I overheard some guy announcing that to all and sundry once) or if the men behind me are making a bet on whether the women in line ahead of them are going to use a check instead of cash because all women use checks and hold everyone up…you get the idea. It was me changing my behavior instead of doing what I always did, trying to please someone.
Now, I don’t respond, I stay in my meditative world and I never, ever respond. I don’t CARE if they think I agree, disagree or am too frightened to offer a differing opinion. I don’t try to change the way they think. If someone tries to engage me directly, I ignore them. That’s how I WALK AWAY -I look at something else and act as if they aren’t there. The when it’s my turn, I do whatever I’m there to do and I go on about my day.
Finally, tody, it’s not such a challenge. I don’t have to please anyone anymore to keep my job. Now, when I engage in conversation with strangers, or the checkout person, it’s with a bright smile and pleasant remarks on the weather, the product I’m buying, or the pleasant anticipation of the activity of the products or the books or whatever. I try to leave people with a good taste in their mouth because I remember all the sour, grouchy people I had to interact with daily.
I love being retired. I’m poor but wow what a world of internal riches I’m discovering!
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