I hate to say it, but people piss me off. A lot. In fact I’d say, at least once every day, somebody pisses me off. Sometimes it’s for a legitimate reason, like someone I was counting on turned out to be a complete and utter waste of time (I’m lookin at you fellas). And sometimes it’s for more trivial reasons, like because some dude on a bike is cycling on the F*CKING PAVEMENT (what is with that? GET ON THE ROAD). This happens to all of us: we all get annoyed with each other, because we’re all annoying as f*ck. And I think, especially as Brits, this whole being painfully polite all the time thing actually does more harm than good because we never express how we feel. Instead of telling the guy on the bike that he’s a nob and should get off the FCKING PAVEMENT, we get all awkward and polite and mutter “oh oops, excuse me, sorry” as he cycles past, happy as Larry. And so we never actually resolve the issue. We stay annoyed about the man on the bike, complaining about it to anyone and everyone we meet that day, meanwhile man on the bike goes along, totally, blissfully oblivious to the fact that his pavement mounting is upsetting an entire nation.
Now… 9 times out of 10 when somebody pisses me off, it’s not a big deal. It’s not about anything serious and it doesn’t have any impact on my life in the long run at all. To be honest, I probably don’t think about it ever again. And I realised just the other day that in these moments, in these few seconds where I choose to let someone’s behaviour annoy me, I’m making a horrendously ignorant snap decision about a person and their circumstances.
Because here’s the thing: you can never ever know what is going on with a person. And therefore, you do not have the right to decide or assume why they are acting the way that they are. You know that couple in front of you? The ones walking at approximately 0.2mph, holding hands and taking up the whole pavement? We all assume that they’re just so lost in their little love bubble that they can’t bear to let go of each other’s hand to let us past, completely oblivious to the fact that they’re in everyone’s way and pissing us all off. Right? But maybe, just maybe, there’s more to it. Maybe one of them is recovering from an injury, or from an operation, and they’re still a bit shaky on their feet and they just wanna walk slow. Or maybe, I don’t know, she’s leaving the country tomorrow and they won’t see each other for months, and they don’t want to let go of each other until then. And that guy who just walked into you because he was busy on his phone and not looking where he was going? We probably all assume he’s scrolling through Facebook because he’s another one of those people who can’t bear to put their phone away for 5 minutes. But maybe he just got a really important message, or he really needs to contact somebody, or maybe he’s on Google Maps trying to find his way to his job interview. You see? Maybe he’s not an asshole, maybe there’s a legitimate reason for why he, in those few seconds, in that tiny, insignificant fragment of your life, accidentally got in your way.
But sadly, a lot of us don’t think like that. We don’t care about the reason. Somebody inconvenienced us and we’re annoyed, and instead of taking a step back and wondering why, we jump to conclusions. We are all so quick to assume and to judge and to criticise everyone and everything. The car that pulls out in front of you, the person who crosses the road without looking, the cashier who is super rude and blunt and can’t even manage a smile, sure their behaviour isn’t perfect or desirable and it might frustrate you, but maybe there’s something else going on, something far deeper than your groundless assumptions. And I’ll be the first to admit: I’m just as guilty of this as anybody else. But it needs to stop. And here’s why.
In these moments, we don’t know this person. We don’t know their name. We don’t know their story, their history. We don’t know what they are doing or where they are going, and we don’t know why they acted the way they did. We know absolutely nothing about them. And sure, it would be a whole lot easier if we could attach a sign to our heads saying “Dog just died. Not feeling like smiling today”, or “I get anxious in big crowds so I message my friends when I’m walking in the city to stay calm. Sorry if I walk into you” or “I was in a car crash 3 months ago and I’m just getting comfortable with driving again so GIVE ME A BREAK”.
But we never find this stuff out, and so in our head they forever remain “that nob that walked into me”. And I can’t help but wonder, is that fair? Can we justify making that snap judgement about another human being based solely on how they acted for 5 seconds? We all make mistakes, we all do things now and then which don’t necessarily comply with our true character. It’s called being human. We try to be good and do good things, but sometimes we mess up. All of us. And I don’t think it’s right that a total stranger is remembered for the 5 seconds in which they maybe acted like a bit of a dick, when I’m sure they’ve done a whole lifetime of good that we know nothing about.
Now, I’m not saying to make excuses for habitual bad behaviour or to make allowances for someone who treats you unkindly. That’s different. What I’m saying is, we need to stop being so quick to judge and to assume things about people. Give each other a break. Life is hard. It can be really really tough. So why do we make it even harder for each other? If we all just took a little more time, had a little more patience, a little more understanding, maybe it wouldn’t have to be this difficult. We wouldn’t feel like we’re constantly battling against each other. And instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming everything about a person, why not just take a step back, give them a smile, and let it go. It will not affect you in a week’s time. It won’t even affect you tomorrow. So trust me when I say, it does not matter.
I know people are annoying. Man that’s why I live alone. They are frustrating and irritating and they do things which piss us off and leave us whinging about them for the next 3 days, but please, just try to take it easy on each other. Give them a chance. Take a second to think. Because maybe there’s a reason. And it’s not fair for you to walk away with that judgement of somebody, without ever knowing what’s going on. Life is far too short to waste even a second of it being frustrated and angry about superficial things. So let’s all try to relax, and be a bit more forgiving.
Who’s with me?