Have you noticed how, since we are born, our life is subjected to some kind of commentary? And here I am not talking about the healthy positive commentary we could all do with in life- I am talking about the insistent, nosing passing of random seemingly interested comments that people do when they are looking to one up you with their own news.
It starts with schooling- the well meaning questions here and there about where your son or daughter got in, followed by periodic inquiries (and pointed comments) about trophies, extra curriculars and of course grades. The O and A levels are prime points- as they would be considering everyone knows exactly when the result comes out. Somehow one manages to get out of that commentary in college because college for every person is so subjective. After all, no one was truly interested in my development studies reporrt or how I got the idea for the fashion convention design. Possibly because they didn’t understand it.
Work starts and thats always a part of life where people are constantly commenting. On degrees and pay packages and growth and career and hierarchy. So and so got into there and so and so is waiting for a better offer. And if you think that is bad, wait till the wedding bells ring.
Ever since I have gotten married, I have not yet been able to meet random relatives without some kind of comment being issued from them. Initially it was about how much happier and glowy I was looking in life now that I was married (of course in comparison to my 28 year long withered and dry existence before). Slowly that got boring so it became sidelong smiled comments on keeping the husband happy, cooking and house. Every time without fail, it was something. “You look like you have put on weight.” “You should do something to your hair.” “You look so worn out- why do you work so hard?”
Now mind you, I am fully aware of the need to small talk our way through social occasions but my mother taught me to focus on the positive. To affirm people’s choices in their lives. To somehow leave them feeling uplifted in who they are, even if you don’t understand it. She told me that even if I thought that old old friend from college looked like hell after her third baby in 3 years, I should focus on something positive in her life and comment on that, if I have to comment that is. That despite the fact that a friend of mine married completely the wrong person, I should try and see that he will atleast be at peace with what he chose. And I should communicate that to him, so he can feel some measure of support also. I think over the years, that became an outlook, a way of living- downplay the negative, highlight the positive.
Then why do people become insensitive to those around us and expect high amounts of sensitivity where they themselves are concerned? How can they expect other people to reflect back pretty pictures of their lives when all they do is spotlight the harsh reality of others? Sometimes I think it is because deep down the only way some people can truly feel good, is by making those around them feel bad. Someone once said the surefire way to feel better is to think of someone who is worse off than you. So yes try it out for yourself- when your life choices aren’t looking too bright or going the way you would have ideally liked them to, it’s best to pass a disparaging remark to the next person you meet. Comment on their weight, their happiness, their achievements. Disguise it as a concerned question. See how good you really feel about yourself.