A lady I worked with many years ago once imparted a great wisdom, whispering conspiratorially in my ear, “Life is so much better when I chose to be happy over being right. I’d much rather be happy than right.” Sixteen years ago, those words tore through the clang-clang of slot machines and too-loud overhead music, hitting me right where I lived.
If only I had learned it then.
I LOVE being right. I can tear apart an argument faster than you can say Supercalifrag…whatever the rest of that is. I can Google and find *real* sources before you even finish your sentence.
I love being right. When you make a claim, I want a source. A real source. Not a “Dr. Oz said it,” source or a biased source, but a relating of the facts void of any slant. I’ll counter your claim and your source with examples of your source and, well, your being wrong in the past if I need to do so.
I can break apart an argument, point out how your “evidence” doesn’t even support your claim. I can do the jitterbug on the grave of your so-called logic.
I so love being right. Maybe I have a little love for the art of domination, for making you submit your false premise based on false sources to my rightness. I will end up on top. You bring the attitude, and I’ll bring the whips and chains of etymology, policy, semantics. Peer-reviewed sources and proof of your wrongness,
And I won’t let you forget.
But I’ve come to a place in a specific relationship where I’m tired of being right. Well, not tired of being right so much as tired of being not-happy. I’m tired of fighting on every little thing, I’m tired of making her “show her work.”
I’m tired of her being a bossy, WRONG, little shit. But I know there is absolutely nothing I can do to change her.
So that leaves changing me.
Inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I’ve made a habit of writing at least one hand-written page in the morning before I write-write. This morning, it was three. This morning, I wrote about why I dislike her so much. I expected to have a list as long as the Mississippi, but, as it turned out, it was surprisingly short. At the top of the list were the adjectives “oppositional and defiant.”
Now, I realize I was talking about myself. I could easily justify it: I abhor unfairness and injustice, favoritism, and cronyism. I hate arbitrary rules that don’t make things better. I loathe opacity; I believe that transparency, not discretion, is the better part of valor. Or at least of integrity.
And I have never, ever been a fan of “because I said so.”
I am defiant in the face of these. I am oppositional. Because my defiance and opposition are based on fighting these qualities, I feel a sense of righteousness. And I do love to feel righteous. Is this wrong that I push back against these things? Is it wrong that I call her (and others) out for these things?
I don’t think so, but I so know that our relationship is unproductive and not at all uncooperative. Maybe we’re competing for “rightness.”
In another discussion, I said:
Rather than judging and punishing [women] for the best…decision for her, give women the means to break the cycle. Either you help solve the problem or you don’t. But judgment doesn’t solve the problem. It just makes us feel righteous.
And it’s true in nearly any situation. (Maybe even every situation, but I also hate absolutes.)
Within the next few days, I plan on going to her and apologizing for my part in our conflict. Is apologizing admitting she is right? Or is it simply the beginning steps of building a bridge rather than a wall?
I don’t know, but I’m going to sit with it a few days, and then talk with her.
Because, at least for now, in this moment, I want peace over conflict. I want happiness over righteousness. I still want to address the unfairness and all of the other things.
But at the very least, I need to find another way to do it.