Wednesday of last week. Another bland day in this Gregorian calendar, dominated by this Gods-forsaken pandemic. On that day, I am home, writing a text about something. I am also texting with people simultaneously. I am lucky enough to have people who are willing to talk to me via WhatsApp messages and calls, DMs on Instagram, and FaceTime. I truly am lucky to have people I can interact with. It makes this whole confinement bearable and I don’t take any of it for granted.
So, I am going through another typical day. As I am talking to various people, I am being Freeman, meaning I am joking, being sarcastic and I am also being serious, only when it’s required of me. Then, at some point, my sarcasm hits a wall with two different people, in two different conversations, both happening through text. I immediately was flabbergasted to see my sarcasm miss its target because my sarcasm is 99.999999% on point! Yeah, that’s right! I guess in both cases, I hit the 0.000001%. What are the odds of that happening twice in a day? I am sure the odds are astronomical. Anyway, we move on.
They say you cannot tell the tone of a message as WhatsApp and Instagram don’t convey tone; despite the emojis one could send and it’s true. However, if you have been speaking to someone regularly, you can sometimes, if not often, tell when they are being annoyed, or cold, or both. So, I took my time to find out what was going on. I asked both people if they were ok. They told me my sarcasm wasn’t welcome, appreciated and one of them, actually chastised me for making fun of a situation that allegedly wasn’t funny. I am using the word “allegedly” because, the day before, that same person and I had made fun of the same situation and we laughed about it. Regardless of what had happened the day before, we were in a new day, so I let it be. I didn’t insist on anything and I decided to use caution and I took a few steps backwards. They needed space and I gave it to them, gladly. Nothing weird there.
I am a tremendous advocate of giving people space and time. I used to be slightly needy. I wanted to understand everything all the time and my once obsessive behaviour wouldn’t make things better. I am less obsessive and needy today. I guess that’s what happens when one gets older. Furthermore, life experience has taught me a valuable lesson; give people space and time. I must give people what I myself require every now and then. One must be patient with others. We are all different and we deal with our personal issues in our own ways. So, I retreated in my corner and went on with my day.
Within a few hours, both people texted me to explain themselves, which was a courageous and noble thing to do. They were having a bad day and my sarcastic comments didn’t help. They apologized for being short with me and I accepted their apologies by telling them bad days happen to everyone of us. We are human and since they didn’t insult me or disrespect me, I told them, technically, there was nothing to apologize for. One of them asked me if I was going to apologize to them for my comments.
“Why would I apologize?”, I responded.
“For hurting my feelings”, they said.
“You want me to apologize for hurting you with a comment we both used 48 hours ago? Do you think that’s fair? The comment hadn’t changed. The one thing that changed is your mood, which made you lose patience with me. Do you think I meant to hurt you by saying what I said?”
“No”, they retorted.
Silence followed. I thought about my rationale. Perhaps I was being proud or stubborn. But the more I thought about it, I realized I was being neither. So, I decided to say “I feel sorry that you were having a bad day but I am not going to apologize for the comment I made since I didn’t mean to hurt you. Moreover, you know I had no intention to hurt you because you and I made the same comment before. I don’t feel it would be fair for me to apologize or for you to ask for an apology when no offense was thrown at you. I feel like the circumstances of the bad day are to blame. You are not to blame here. You simply had a bad day bro, that’s it. No harm was done if you think about it.”
We went through a whole debate about apologies and forgiveness, a long debate I will spare you, despite how interesting it was. I wished I could have done a live on the subject. Perhaps I will one of these days. Anyway, we move on!
As a principle, I am an enormous proponent of apologies. I believe they are a core value one must have. I respect people who find the strength and humility to recognize they messed up. I respect people who try to make amends. I respect people who never seek to hurt people intentionally. I respect those who apologize when they cause pain unintentionally or intentionally. I respect those who can muster the strength to simply say “I am sorry”.
Yet, in this particular case, apologizing didn’t feel right. I hadn’t done anything wrong. My friend knew my intention and once again, I simply repeated what my friend had said about their very own predicament. If I had said something out of place, something that would have hurt my friend, something neither them nor me had ever mentioned, I would have apologized on the spot.
Perhaps, they wanted an apology to feel better. Perhaps, their mood changed after they took the time and space to think about the situation. Bad days surely affect people’s mood. Perhaps the bad day was dragging on. Anyway, we move on.
Misunderstandings happen all the time. We must communicate with people as best as we can. My friends earned my respect even more for their willingness to talk to me, for their openness, for their patience, for their vulnerability. They earned my respect because they took the time to listen to me. They could have easily dismissed me. They could have discarded me. They could have said “this is the last time this fucker is getting on my nerves! No more of him!’. They could have done a million things. Yet, they chose to talk to me, to listen, to explain themselves, they offered me an opportunity to explain myself. I certainly hope I earned their respect. We mended our differences. We move on!
Relationships aren’t easy. I am not telling you anything you don’t know already. Giving up on them is easy. Working on them is hard. Maintaining relationships is extremely wearisome. It takes time, perseverance, strength, will power, genuine care.
We hit a wall. We took some time apart. We talked and we fixed it. That’s what real friends do. That’s how we evolve and keep respecting and loving each other. Now, onto the next adventure.
Like I said before…Anyway, we move on.
Just one man’s opinion.
Now smile and go on with your day!