Believe it or not, I hear that a lot. The words, “I hate you.” People compare and they critique. They belittle and they begrudge.
“I hate you.” Followed by a lighthearted chuckle or a smirk.
“I hate you.” Followed ever-so-closely by a “just kidding.”
“I hate you.” Followed by a tepid rationale of why they thought those words were appropriate to say at that given moment in time.
I know these people probably don’t really hate me. It’s just a figure of speech. But the words still stop me in my tracks every single time. Do people ever give any thought to their actions? How they come across in certain situations? Have they ever contemplated the power of the words they use? And why they use them? And how it makes other people feel? Did they ever think that when they were just trying to be funny, they were actually being anything but.
I truly dislike the word hate. I use it sparingly, and hardly ever to describe my feelings towards a living, breathing, animate object. In my humble opinion, it should be reserved for things like blisters, cold sores, terrorists, the gophers that eat my gorgeous flowers, child molesters, rapists, and maybe the Tea Party. Not ever in friendly conversation.
I know people who have said things to me like, “Oh my God, I hate you. You’re such a good mom.” Do those two sentences even go together?! I assume it is stated in this context like some kind of figure of speech. But, I still don’t get it. Maybe what they want to say is something more along the lines of, “I really admire your parenting skills. I would like to be more like you in that regard. Can you give me some pointers?” But, I guess they just have trouble finding the words. So, they say they hate me to cover up their own insecurities. Maybe if they knew that I grew up the daughter of an uninvolved, narcissistic, abusive alcoholic they would think before they spoke. Maybe if they knew how much pain and insecurity that caused me as a child, they would tone down the harsh vocabulary a bit. Maybe if they knew that I learned from my father’s mistakes, and I vowed to never let a day go by without my children knowing how much I love them — they would be a little freer with an actual compliment, and not a backhanded one.
I remember a day in college where someone said to me, “I hate you. You are so pretty, you make me sick.” Um…..?!?! Did this woman think she was giving me a compliment? Did she think that exchange would make me feel good about myself? At that given moment in time, the ugliest thing in the room was her disposition. And her vocabulary. I suppose I was blessed with a pretty face. I like my eyes and I have a big smile. I am thankful for that, but I don’t give it much thought. None of us are given the luxury of being able to cherry-pick our appearance when we are born. We, each and every one of us, are the products of genetics and biology — at least initially. I got my brown eyes and my olive skin from my Italian father. My hair, my nose, and maybe my chin are from my mom. I got what I got, just like everyone else does! I try to be pretty inside because it doesn’t matter how good looking a person is — an ugly disposition trumps physical beauty. Every. Single. Day. To that woman, and to all the other people who have said similar things to another human being: a compliment is null and void when the word hate is also directed at the recipient in the same breath.
I quit my 9-5 job two years ago and am now self employed. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard: “I hate you! You get to work from home/don’t have to sit in traffic/don’t have to put up with the bullshit/get to see your kids every afternoon/are so lucky/you have the best life.” Again, there is no reason to “hate” me or “hate” the idea of me and what I am choosing to do with my life. I am not lucky. Luck has nothing to do with it. I don’t have the best life. I have a good life that I have chosen by design. I work hard and I make decisions based on what my goals, dreams, and values are. I made a very difficult decision to sacrifice a full-time income that I worked extremely hard to build up for 13 years. I made that decision because my job was killing me — spiritually, emotionally, physically — and no amount of money in the world was worth the abuse and mind-games that I put up with towards the end. The same option is available to everyone. Yes, even you. You, too, can choose to be entrepreneurial, to make sacrifices, face times of uncertainty, and build a profession from scratch. You, too, can choose your children and your morals over your career and find a way to make it work. But, I understand that most people like to just moan and complain and act like the world has a personal vendetta against them. I think those are precisely the people who “hate” me. The woebegone, the insecure, the victimized, the jealous.
Most recently, although not most shockingly, I am hearing the hate comments over my appearance. I made a conscious decision over the summer to take control of my eating habits and change my lifestyle for the better. That resulted in a dramatic weight loss. Now, people are expressing their disdain over that, too. I am truly not certain how you can hate on someone because they are healthier — but, people do. “You got so skinny. I hate you!” “I hate you — how the hell did you do that?” Again, it’s not as if the Stork of Weight Loss flew down my chimney, a pack of unicorns in its wake, swaddled me in glitter and pixie dust, and said a chant which made me 30 pounds thinner. I WORKED for this! And, maybe if you had lived a moment in my head these past few years and knew just how uncomfortable I had gotten in my own skin, you would feel some kind of empathy and pride for me instead of hatred/jealousy/contempt/envy.
Again, I am not special. I put my pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else. The opportunities I have created for myself are available to anyone and everyone — you just have to want it. We ALL are the creators our own destinies! I am not a chosen one and I bust my butt for all of the things I have. The information on how to change careers, lose weight, improve your parenting skills, love freely, and exude optimism is out there, if you just take the time to ask the right questions as opposed to dropping a hate bomb every time you open your mouths.
I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to all of the people who know how to give a genuine compliment. The ones who high five, hug, and feel genuine happiness when another person is happy/successful/at peace. I am blessed to know far more optimists than pessimists.
- Make every effort to think before you speak.
- If a genuine compliment is not possible, then it is better to just not speak at all.
- It is not healthy to compare and contrast yourself to others. Be who you are. Own it. Whether you are genuinely happy or not — know that you were the person who helped get yourself where you are. And know that, at any given moment, you have the power to change your trajectory — your future is not etched in stone.