Reflections on bad qualities

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To this day, the lesson that has resonated with me the most came from my grade 12 literature class.

We were instructed to draw a box in the centre of a page, then think of the person that we disliked most in this world. We were told to put the qualities about them that annoyed us so much around the box.

I remember my page had qualities like vain, insensitive, spoiled and self-centered. It felt kind of good to get those qualities out on a page and admit what annoyed me so much about a person that everyone else seemed to like.

That was, of course, until we filled our own names into the boxes in the centre of our sheets.

Most of the students in the class were indignant. There was no way people saw me as vain and self-centered, was there?

I started to question everything about the way I saw myself; was I really the person that I hated the most? I wasn’t the only one feeling disheartened.

Some students laughed, but most were annoyed or uncomfortable.

Then, our teacher continued our lesson. She said that these qualities, the ones we hated the most in the other person, were actually the ones we try to repress in ourselves.

That’s when everything clicked for me. I hated the thought of being vain because I try so hard not to be vain. The thought of being insensitive was so hurtful because I try so hard to be attentive to the needs of others.

As much as I’d like to get along with everyone I come across, sometimes it’s just not possible while still keeping an opinion and a personality.

Butting heads and confrontation with others is bound to happen, sooner or later. Living with this certainty, for me, has been a lot easier with this logic in mind.

I still communicate with my “least favourite person.” I still think that she matches all of the qualities she did two years ago. But dealing with her now has become a lot easier. In a way, I think it’s like the old “turning the other cheek.”

At the end of the day, she can say and do whatever she wants, as much as it annoys me. I even let her, to an extent, because a lot of the time it’s just not worth arguing. In the meantime, I can rest easy knowing that I’ve done my best to not be like her.

Maybe I’m the name that people think about when they’re writing the qualities around an empty box. Maybe some of my qualities are the ones that people really hate.

I’m not going to lose sleep over that, either. These hypothetical qualities? They’re ones that I must be more comfortable within myself.

If I’m disliked for qualities I like, I’m not going to try to change those traits anyway. Being confident isn’t just skin deep.

There isn’t anything wrong with clashing personalities or annoyances with peers.

What matters is that you’re comfortable enough with your personality and opinions that you can work with these annoyances without shutting down.

The annoying qualities in others are qualities we want to shut off in ourselves. Seeing them in another person shouldn’t reflect your own self-confidence.

Rest easy knowing that you’re not like them; at least, you’re trying not to be.

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