Rules

May 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm (About Me) (, , , )

I ended up with a rather busier Memorial Day weekend than I might have wished for myself.  It didn’t leave a whole lot of time for spending on the computer (although some of that was just me avoiding the computer because I wanted a technology break).

I ended up spending a lot of time reading, which was nice.  I poked a bit around my little garden, since more of my plants are blooming now.  I also spent some time just thinking.

I’m pretty sure a lot of people think I’m rigid.  Call it that, or stubborness, or any old thing – it all amounts to about the same thing.  My family especially likes to point this particular trait out to me, usually because they think I’m too rigid (or stubborn or whatever).

The older I get (and I realize I’m still not that old), the more impatient I get with being dismissed that way.  Because in so many ways, it is completely a dismissal.  People think, oh, we don’t need to listen to Mary, because she’s just being stubborn.  She’s not able to be flexible, so she isn’t seeing the world as it really is.  Maybe that viewpoint is sometimes true, but I don’t think it is nearly as often as I’m made to feel it is.

The fact is, the world exists because of rules.  I happen to find those rules pretty fascinating, perhaps because of my interest in history, or perhaps just because.  Every society has their own set of rules, and some societies even codify them.  The most fascinating thing about those rules, really, is the fact that even when people say that they’re outdated and ridiculous, most people still follow a large chunk of them.

So the fact that I know many of these rules (call them etiquette, call them manners, call them society, or anything else) and recognize both their value and their hold on people does not make me rigid.  Wanting to follow them myself does not make me stubborn.  Wanting to preserve a standard that is based on the ideal of a smoothly-operating society does not mean that I will apply that standard rigidly in every case I see.  But when I do apply it rigidly, that doesn’t mean I’m blowing things all out of proportion.

It might very well look as though I take offense at things that I would not have been offended by several years ago (before I actually learned these rules).  But I think what’s really happening is that now I know what I have a right to be offended over, and what I don’t.  So instead of a vague feeling of discomfort a lot of the time, I’m able to brush off things that shouldn’t offend me, and focus my energy on dealing with those things that do.  Ultimately, those rules of society apply just as much to myself as they do to anyone else, if not more so.  They help me figure out what the best course of action is in sticky situations, and come out the other side without pissing off everyone around me or burning any undeserving bridges.

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