I have in past years become noticeably more yielding in my interactions with everyday people. The thing about becoming a more graceful person; a more accepting person is that you should think of your interpersonal “world” in three concentric circles when you try to change your dynamic and interactions: the outermost is sometimes challenging, to be sure. The people in this circle include some difficult people — the customer service representative at the cable company and at your health insurance company who both claim that it is a pleasure doing pleasure with you though you not only feel the exact opposite sentiment but find their claims highly dubious; the perfect stranger in the gas-guzzling Hummer that you really don’t want to let over because fair or not you deem them ecologically irresponsible; the person in front of you in the 10 Items or Less Line with 32 items and 4 ill-behaved children. To be sure there are very easy to love people in this category for the most part, and when there are exceptions to the rule you rarely see them again. Still, you could change their day if not their outlook so suck it up and be gracious already.
In the second concentric circle, on the periphery are your neighbors. Wave. Then there are the people you work with and go to school with. It is universally true that the more you know and are known the more difficult it can become to forget common courtesies, when that is precisely the opposite of what is needed in these relationships.
Finally, the last circle – our families, our past or current partners, whether physically or simply emotionally present and the person we are toughest on – ourselves. We interact with these people in ways that directly contradict the way we feel about them. I know because I am one of the worst past perpetrators. While I have gotten a bit better, even with others in my innermost circle, I treat myself horribly and at the root of this is my perfectionism. Case in point: I have had over three months to get some assignments in to a professor. It could have taken me all of an afternoon to do it in the state it was in, which was more than fine, but not for me. I wanted to research this and then that and then something else. In so doing I had more and more a sense of incompleteness regarding the assignment which was absolutely unnecessary and entirely brought on by myself. I have created a huge sense of anxiety where there was none before, I have to figure out what the actual assignment was and work within THOSE parameters, and get these 6 documents to my professor by tomorrow as grades are due Wednesday. I should have sent this stuff in way back in October, but could’ve would’ve should’ve will do me no good at this point. I have to dangle a carrot in front of me as I know this does work (finish this and you can put up the Christmas trees). Though I know I *will* do something like this again, I can hope I don’t do it to this extent. Perfectionism leads to procrastination when I have something to do. When I have a paper to write, I will read sources until the day before the paper is due, write a less than fully cohesive paper and get a B. Of course I would rather get an A but I never can stop myself because I want to know EVERYTHING when I get excited about a topic. I see this as a good and a bad thing – I love how engrossed I get; I am often teased (lovingly, I think) for my storehouses of footnote-like knowledge I have gained through these endeavors. However, I need a system to know when to quit, to be nicer to myself when it’s time. I am looking for that happy medium. Knowing me, I will try to find the answer in a book and I won’t stop until I find it – it’s just who I am.