12 May 2014

everyone is annoying eventually

I am annoying. I know it. I can't say exactly how, since I remain oblivious to most of my own weaknesses, but I know that I must be . . . because everyone else is.

Jeepers! cries the concerned reader. Get up on the wrong side of the bed? Nope. I had a correctly sided awakening, thank you. But based on my unscientific sampling of Everybody I Know, "annoying" is a universal human trait. You just have to stick around long enough.

Some annoyances jump out and smack you in the face. You know what I mean: the coworker who won't stop bragging about his new phone, the dinner guest who squeaks her fork across the plate. Those will get on your nerves no matter who you are or how many times you've experienced them. Other annoyances don't immediately present themselves as such: they may seem innocuous or endearing the first go-round, and only become aggravating through repetition or a change of setting. (Your husband's offkey whistling, funny every other day, suddenly torments you on Thursday night when the baby has colic and you have a headache and dinner is an hour late.)

Now be honest. Think a minute. I dare you to name anyone-- anyone with whom you have an actual relationship-- who has not raised your hackles, in some way, at some time.

See? Everyone is annoying eventually.

I learned this at the end of my junior year trip to Turkey: after one month of very close contact, our group of relatively well-behaved and interesting young adults had become an unbearable gang of pests. On the final bus ride back to Istanbul we nearly drove one another bonkers and I realized that every one of my friends had managed to be a royal pain at some point on that trip.

Hence I deduced, Watson, that I too must have sorely tried the patience of my compatriots over the preceding month. That helped me to take other people's quirks lightly.

(And still does. I can't get outraged over a quality that I also possess: namely, the quality of getting on other people's nerves by virtue of existing over an extended period of time.)

It helps especially when it comes to the people I love. The double-edged sword of close relationships! You know them well enough to feel comfortable with them, confide in them, and truly enjoy them, but then again, you know them well enough to be familiar with all their foibles. I chuckle at those foibles, not grind my teeth, because isn't that what I want them to do with mine? I'd rather choose to laugh them away-- knowing that this is just part of being human-- than let them weigh me down and start to feed bitterness.

What do you think? How do you deal with "annoying" things and the people who do them? Are you able to overlook those annoyances or do they tend to get your goat?

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