Monday, April 7, 2014

Personality Trait Championship

Here it is, the final post in this series, on the night of the final game of the NCAA tournament. It's like I planned it that way or something.

Without knowing the winner yet, we already know it's safe to say what I value: acceptance. Both of the traits in this match-up are based on that. I just think that the most important thing in any relationship is that it be full of understanding.

I wanted to say that it should be free of judgment, but I have always had a bit of a problem with that word. I don't really understand why people shouldn't be judged based on their actions. I don't mean that it's OK to say you're a good person or you're a bad person or you're better or worse than this other person. I just mean, aren't we all always judging everything? Google defines judgment as "the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions." I think that's exactly what we're all doing every time we begin down the road of a new relationship, or even continue with a current relationship. You're evaluating people based on what you see, and you're considering all of this new information you're learning about them, and you're making a decision about how to proceed with the relationship.

I think that often people relate pure judgment with some sort of consequence. I had a friend that always said, "Don't judge me!" after every time she did something stupid, like do some simple math wrong or something else totally insignificant. But, like, I wasn't even? But if I was, I wasn't going to think any differently about her. It was not news to me that she wasn't good with thinking on her feet or whatever else she may have been insecure about. It's not a personal requirement for my friends to be good at math. It's OK.

It's not the judgment that matters. It's what comes after.

You can think, "Dang, my friend is such a mess. I can't believe she didn't realize she was drunk after drinking an entire bottle of wine in an hour, and then she kept ordering drinks, and then she could barely stand up." But as long as you're not suddenly going to stop being her friend because you judged that it was dumb that she did that, it's all good. The judgment that your friend's behavior was stupid isn't the problem. It was stupid, and she probably knows that. But how you respond is what matters. You can be open minded and think, "She got excited about going out and made a mistake," (instead of thinking, "Wow, what an alcoholic; I can't hang out with her anymore.") and you can be tolerant of her poor decision making that night.

So, though there will be only one winner in this final face-off of personality traits, it's interesting to consider each of the traits I went through (and all of the other possible traits known or unknown) when in a relationship, whether it's a simple friendship or something more. You don't have to feel the same way I do. Honestly, it might be best to never consider some of these things. Just be friends with who you want to be friends with. But sometimes, it's nice to think about what makes a good friendship, and then maybe you can make more good friendships from your findings. That's all.

No. 4 Open Minded v. No. 2 Tolerant  
Open mindedness is a beautiful thing. It can save you from so much, like jumping to conclusions and assumptions. It can also save you from always eating chicken fingers. Open mindedness can be just the thing you need to kick-start a new adventure. Open mindedness can be the very breath of an adventure. Sometimes, that adventure is a relationship. One of the best parts of relationships is learning from the other person. Sure, it's fun to have someone to talk to about your feelings and stuff, but isn't it awesome to learn about your friends' experiences, too?

Maybe your friends told you that their experience sky diving was the most amazing sensation of their entire lives because of what happens between the plane and the ground (I don't actually know what happens because I've never been, but I imagine that if I heard someone describe it with enough description—more than "It was so cool"—I'd look into it). And boom. You have a new adventure to take on because you were open minded. You weren't scared. You weren't timid. Or maybe you were, but you were open minded enough to try it anyway, and your friendships are now strengthened because you listened and acted on their suggestion.

Tolerance also strengthens relationships, but in a different way. I think tolerance is kind of like a reminder of how much you care about someone. Recently, one of my friends was like, "But tolerance is the stupidest thing ever. Like, who do we, as people, think we are that we have the choice to be intolerant? It doesn't matter if we tolerate what someone else is doing or not." Which is so true. Whatever you're (in)tolerant of is going to happen anyway. Regardless of your opinion on something, this is how the world is. People of other races exist. Other religions exist. Other preferences exist. Your opinions matter to so few people other than you. But I think that's more just acceptance of the world around you. And honestly, he was talking about gay marriage, so that's a little different than what I'm getting at.

What I mean by tolerance is, like, your friend has a lot hair and it falls out everywhere, but you don't get mad about it. You can't go in her bathroom without getting a piece of her hair stuck on you. It's gross. She's sorry. But you know this, and you don't hate her for it. You're not totally accepting of it because you try to avoid using her bathroom and you don't agree with the behavior or think it's right, but you're tolerant of this thing about her because you're allowing it to continue. You're not making her wipe everything down before you use her sink. If it were your bathroom, you totally would. But it's not ruining your friendship. You care about her enough to know that she just has a lot of hair, and you don't feel the need to call her attention to this and embarrass her by telling her this undesirable thing she already knows about herself.

So which one of these is more important? Which of these traits is more valuable in a friendship?

Google defines tolerance as "showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with."

And open mindedness, also according to Google (a.k.a. God), is "willing to consider new ideas; unprejudiced."

Weird. They're so similar. Can there be a tie in the championship? Can we vote? What do we do?

I thought long and hard (not really) about voting, but considering that so few people are reading this now anyway, I'm just going to make the decision because that's how I am.

Though I value them both immensely, OPEN MINDEDNESS WINS! Mostly because if you're open minded, I feel like you're likely to also be tolerant. So it's a win-win! BUT OMG A NO. 4 SEED IS CROWNED—SO CRAZY—AHHHH. I know that's what just happened in your mind. Me too, me too. Calm down. It's just a personality trait.

I hope you have gotten at least a little enjoyment out of reading this. It's been thought provoking and somewhat difficult to write.
The basketball game tonight will not have such a happy ending. One way or the other, there will be riots.

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