April 17th, 2004

smurfoff

perks

the only time i'm a power hungry beeyotch is when i think about how if you're president, you can probably get somebody to make you salmon roe sushi at 6:30 in the morning.
owl

Accountability.

Lately I am wondering in the back of my mind just how much I should hold people accountable for nasty or disruptive things they say or do that they maybe want to take back later. A whole bunch of things put me in mind of this - a post I commented on this morning discussing some major jerks in my life; a person whose journal I now only read once in a great while who for various reasons, some perhaps beyond their control, has moodswings and fits of liking/disliking people; remembering some e-mails I decided to overlook and some e-mails I didn't; understanding some people a tiny bit better; situations dying down and giving me more brain space to understand.

On the one hand, I don't want to be the Biblical type of person who insists that people pay a big price for their every "sin" against me. (Those are the only "sins" i really judge because I don't feel I have a right to judge it when it's not against me personally. I'll probably have an opinion, but I try to keep my emotions out of what isn't my personal business.) I also understand that people fuck up, people get mad, people say things they don't really mean or that come out wrong, people who are younger or having a bad time in their lives are more likely to spout off without maybe thinking it through, and that I'm not perfect/have not been perfect in the past when it comes to talking or acting out of turn.

On the other hand, I strongly feel that in today's society, people generally lack accountability, or try to evade accountability, for their actions. Everything is somebody else's fault. My parents didn't pay enough attention to me...my girlfriend/boyfriend fucked me over...I'm a victim of society, I'm a victim of this, I'm a victim of that...I'm under a lot of stress right now... and what to me is the capstone of all, I'm sick, I have this mental condition, [insert name here], and if you haven't had it you don't understand what it's like to be in my skin that drives me to act this way.

(Sometimes this concentration on finding like-minded understanding appears to lead mostly to horrible imploded messes where people with a skewed view of the world get together and collectively lose touch with reality, but that's another topic.)

I always try to hold myself to the same standards I impose on others, which sometimes leads to positive growth for me. And other times leads to me beating up on myself for months or even years over something relatively trivial, while the person who I feel like I wronged is (I discover later) merrily wreaking about 20 times the havoc I ever did, and then when they get found out it's all Boo-hoo, excuses. After one such particularly bad incident of the above, several years ago, I resolved to make an effort to own my anger and not beat up on myself so hard for being an imperfect human who gets bitchy or down in the mouth sometimes when things aren't going well for me.

What I always come back to in the end is a general pattern of behavior. It's like my friend Katarina said in MBA school about a person who constantly screwed up his end of a group project (our MBA program was almost entirely based on group projects) and eventually got thrown out of his group, or reported, or something. "He says, oh give me another chance, well, after you have given someone ten chances, you have to do something." If I see someone has a general habit of saying or doing things they don't really mean, or backing off it later after time to think things through, I try to cut them a break, up to a point. But at some point you do have to say, no more. It doesn't do me or the situation or probably even the other person any good for everyone to let bad, childish behavior go by forever. It doesn't do anyone any good to constantly excuse them because they're "sick" or have had a hard time. Even if we aren't all "sick," or aren't all "victims," we've all been through some version of a hard time. Tough love has got to kick in at some point, for everyone. I guess I just am not sure about where that point should be. I let some people get away with a lot because they always want to fix it, or genuinely try to fix it. Other people don't care enough to fix it or there was never anything there to fix, so it's like, why bother. When I get too confused, I walk away. I would like to be all-forgiving or at least all-uncaring, but eventually you get tired of being disappointed and hurt. Life's too short to be putting up with that.

At some point, regardless of your situation, you have to accept that your actions are going to affect other people and that you might have to live by some standards in order to minimize the damage that you do. Everyone is not going to cut you a break. Eventually, you will truly reap what you sow.
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