October 23rd, 2013
A New Outlook
Being raised in a British household you get, lets say, accustomed to a certain above average amount of sarcasm and witty remarks in a day. With that being said it was clear to me that saying nothing that isn’t kind, useful, and true would require my full attention. I wanted to make the most out of this exercise though, so I decided to set myself a few goals and predictions. While I would say that I am almost always truthful, there are times that just like everyone else I may use a white lie to my benefit, this is something I was going to try and cut out for the day. In terms of being kind, I though I would expect to see a clear difference in what this word means when talking to friends verses teachers or strangers. But, no matter whom it was towards I wanted to try and at the very least help one person, in some way, throughout my day of observation.
For me, Friday’s are the best day of the week, as almost all college kids would agree I am sure. However for me it’s also the time of the week I get to go to the Tunbridge School and hang out with a group of great children for a couple hours. I figured what better day to observe myself than one where I will interact with my friends, teachers, colleagues, as well as children. Kind and useful while hanging out with the children has never been an issue, and came totally naturally to me. However, I found a real issue in my self-observation when trying to stick to my goal of not telling white lies. Young children, are extremely curious as they still have much to learn, and it’s because of this I frequently get a ridiculous array of questions. When asked what I do on Friday nights I couldn’t tell the kids that as a 21 year old I go out and have a few beers, that could cause a whole new set of issues. Or when asked if I have a girlfriend, I use a quick-witted joke to avoid the question knowing the endless laughter that would in sue with such a young crowd. Especially when in a position of authority respect is key among kids because while they need to realize you’re their friend, they also need to listen to you when you tell them what to do. It is mainly for this reason that, while I tried my best, I was unable to be completely truthful with them. Self-observation however, made it much more clear the unique dynamic that exists when interacting with children.
Upon returning home, back to my group of knucklehead friends, truth became much less of a problem while kindness and usefulness became the new focus. Humor and sarcasm play a big role in being used as a sort of crutch to tell the truth, without seeming too rude. When roommate issues arose, such as the pile of dishes that were in the sick, instead of playing it off as no big deal I got everyone together and asked that we start to clean what we use. Although it has only been a few days since then, it has so far worked and everyone actually seemed to agree with me about directly discussing issues between us. Next, my roommates were studying for a Spanish exam so instead of going off and doing my own thing, I thought I may be of use to them having taken that class earlier. We had an entire conversation in Spanish in an attempt to get them to learn the words, and they seemed to greatly appreciate my efforts.
It’s great being able to joke around, and even poke fun of the people we live with, but the biggest thing I observed was learning how to converse in other ways as well. I was raised to always respect and be polite to adults, so interactions with my teachers and parents changed very little during this day of observation. But I did see how I could take this way of acting with people, and apply it to others in my life. Observing every interaction you do in a day is of course an extreme task, but if I were to apply this exercise and set a goal to be kind and useful to help someone at least once a day, I think it could make a real difference.