Not too long ago I was speaking with a woman who said something that left me completely speechless. She was talking about her grandchildren and how they shouldn’t have to tell each other they love each other if they don’t mean it.
My problem with that, is this: The first we ever learn about love is within our own families, and if we continually allow young children to hate each other and never make-up after a fight, we are simply breeding hate. We are telling them it’s ok to hate.
For some reason or another, I keep finding myself in these situations where people are talking so negatively about one another. Yes, I can get involved in gossip myself, and I won’t say I’ve never said anything I didn’t regret later, but I can not handle when the only thing people ever have to talk about is something negative, or hurtful about another person. It all just becomes gibberish in my head.
Without saying too much, there have been two people in my life who I actually felt some sort of hatred towards. One of them was a teacher of mine. She was the first adult I lost all respect for. There were several reasons why we didn’t get along, but I let so much negativity build up inside of me, that it actually felt toxic to be in the same room as her. I couldn’t stand her, and I think it drove her crazy that I wasn’t buying what she was selling.
It finally got to the point that I had to drop her class.
We never had a conversation about it. Instead, I spoke with another teacher, who was a mentor of mine, and the head of the dance department. Looking back, I’m not sure that was the right decision for me in the long run, but it was the only healthy decision at the time.
I thought about her class every day for the rest of the year, as I tried to avoid her on campus. I think some of the younger students looked at me like I was crazy, and I almost felt like something was wrong with me for not idolizing her in the same way everyone else seemed to. Her class was the one people couldn’t wait to get into. And it was somewhat known that once you got into her class you had “made it” in the department.
That summer I went to a company performance of hers. She gave herself a solo, where she walked slowly across the dark stage, in silence, as the incredibly long train of her dress dragged behind her. There was something so beautifully vulnerable about that moment. It almost brought tears to my eyes, because it was in that moment that I realized she was human. That adults are people too. She was insecure and emotional and craving the support and praise of everyone in that audience. She took the risk of putting together this show, and it could have failed. She could have failed.
That week I sat down to write her a letter. I don’t remember if I sent it or not, but there were things I was sorry for. No, we never became friends, and I haven’t talked to her since, but it was nice to be able to let go of that hate.
This weekend, I was reminded of a lot about that time that I had blocked out. But so many years later, it’s much easier to make light of the situation.
I’m writing this, because this is the month to be grateful. Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and it is without a doubt, my absolute, number one, favorite day of the year. I love everything about it. And this year, instead of being thankful for the obvious things, I choose to be thankful for the people like her, who pushed my buttons, drove me a little insane, and more than anything tested my patience. It is these people who taught me things about myself, about other people, and how I want to approach things going forward.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!