I was talking with a friend about an opportunity I’d had recently, when she made a statement that made me feel a bit like a child being corrected (not because her statement was corrective, but because I thought she was disagreeing with me about something important to me. [In retrospect, this is interesting, in itself. Why did I take disagreement in this instance to feel like chastisement?]) Anyway, I don’t believe that she was correcting me or seeing me as childish (or even actually disagreeing with me,) only that that’s how I felt about what she said.
And so, for the rest of the day I was upset and frustrated. I had this scratching inside of me that I just couldn’t shake, or even identify and it took me an entire day to finally realize that the thing I was irritated with was myself. I was irritated that although I’ve been striving to tell the truth, I’d nodded my head and allowed myself to agree with a statement I didn’t understand. I was angry at myself for not asking for clarification from my friend. That might have been an interesting conversation! We might have gotten the chance to go deeper with each other, to find out more about each other’s beliefs, maybe even to disagree and have our viewpoints stretched a little bit and ultimately come away knowing each other a little better. Maybe I could have learned something from her, and about her, but I lost the opportunity because I was too busy pretending to understand and agree.
I’m sorry to say that it happens far too often. I feel like a life-sized bobble head who just wants to agree and understand and never, ever rock the boat. But I’m coming to realize that deep friendships never thrive this way. They can’t. Because all that nodding and agreeing and fear of heave-ing and ho-ing only enables us to sail our ships in the calmest of weather. It’s in the willingness to allow the boat to rock that we learn to navigate the deepest waters.
(I was given permission to publish this, by my wonderful friend who, as I already knew, had not meant her statement the way I’d heard it. I really didn’t need her to tell me that, but I DID need to confess to her what a chicken I’d been. So I did. Over the phone and not in an email, if you can believe such bravery from me! It felt a little awkward, but good, too. In fact, I’m beginning to think awkward is often a precursor of good. Thank you, Friend.)