There is a viral set of “life tips” going around Instagram, and the one that really made me think was: “Ask yourself ‘what does it matter to me?’ next time you find yourself judging someone for their clothing or hobbies. The more you train yourself to not care about the personal preferences of other people, the more relaxed and nice you become as a person.”
I love this reflex/practice: “What does it matter to me?”
Truly, I could be better at giving people space and letting them do their own thing. No skin off my back! Good for you, not for me! In what way does this impact me? Etc!
There is a related prompt that digs a tiny bit deeper that I’ve also found useful: when I find myself cringing, coiling back, or otherwise reacting strongly to something someone else is doing, I spend a minute ferreting out the root. Sometimes, I am startled to find envy or hurt — in which case, I know I need to draw inward, count my own blessings, and live where my shoes are — but sometimes, there’s an underlying clash of values, and this insight is illuminating in that it provides a clear prompt to reflect on whether or not you want to live your life according to the value in question.
Let me provide a hypothetical. This did not happen IRL, but represents a conglomeration of different incidents that have happened to me:
A friend receives a Paperless Post to an intimate cocktail party in your home. You can see she opened the invitation but does not respond. You run into her at the salon, and she says, “The invite was so cute! I hope we can come, but not sure yet whether we will be around!” Two days before the cocktail party, she texts to say, “It turns out my college roommate is in town and wants to do a night out! Thanks for including me, next time!” You feel upset by this. You take a minute to sort through the frustration. You find a good measure of hurt and wounded pride, feeling that her actions suggest she was waiting to see if something better would come along, or perhaps didn’t see your invitation as compelling in the first place. There is also a clash of values, in that you are a planner, and because you hadn’t heard from her, you had rounded up to include her in your menu planning, cocktail program, etc., which incurred extra cost/time on your end. You know that you are a conscientious, rule-abiding person, and that you could never “not get back to” someone who’s extended an invite, as this feels like part of a very basic social understanding. You are also unable to fathom leaving weekend plans until the very last minute.
So, what’s going on here? Is this a situation where you can stop and say, “What does it matter to me?” After all, she’s the one missing out on the cocktail party, and you are going to have a great time no matter what. It’s not your job to police her responsiveness and social etiquette. She probably meant nothing by it and didn’t realize the strain her lack of response put on you. What’s more, when you hang out, you enjoy her company. You believe her to be a fun and well-intentioned person. So, what does it matter to you?
You realize, though, that you might be circling in on a mismatch of values. You prioritize promptness, follow-through, transparency, and she prioritizes connecting with the people that matter to her most and keeping an open mind (and social diary!) for what life might throw her way. She is fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants and you live by the calendar.
This would (and has!) led me to two different paths of action. On the one hand, I can honor my own values and avoid situations where I know they will clash with hers. By this I mean: I can choose not to include her in plans that require planning/procuring of goods/invitations on my end. I can instead text her at the last minute to see if she might want to grab a glass of rose. Or I can choose to not be the one instigating get-togethers with her, and run into her at gatherings hosted by other people who might mind her behavior less.
On the other hand, I can reflect on whether I want to prioritize planning and rule-following above other values. Like, why did I exert so much energy over her wishy-washiness? It wasn’t too hard to round up a bit in the planning of the menu. I could have put that worry into something more productive, or at least positive, in tone. Do I want this to define me? When I imagine myself, do I want “rule follower” and “structured, calendared” to be among the top descriptors? If not, I need to work on getting myself to a place where I can accommodate the behaviors of others who are not this way.
What do you think? Have you run into similar situations where you’ve toggled between “what does it matter to me?” and “But this is a clash of values!”? How do you resolve?
+Another path out of these quandaries: remembering that some of us are walking around with broken hearts, pretending like we aren’t.
+Are you an expert in yourself?
+Do you find that your closest friends share common traits?
+Hunza G released a variation on their beloved bathing suit in STRIPES! Apparently they haven’t released striped versions in years!
+Lululemon Align tank, on sale in all colors!
+Xirena released their popular Draper pants in a classic white color!
+Addison Bay is launching an enormous Warehouse Sale today at 10 A.M. (you can get early access at 9 A.M. as a text subscriber). I can’t wait to see what’s included, as I’ve been eyeing this cute little dress and LOVE a half-zip.
+This booster seat is much cuter than the chunky plastic thing we had for my children. We loved to feed them out of this, though, whether on the floor or on the counter.
+While on the summer footwear train of thought: saw these sandals on a serious chic pea in Chevy Chase the other day and did a triple take.
+Loving this collarless denim jacket.
+I love reusable mini bamboo cloths like these for removing eye makeup.
+This is still pricey, but it’s 40% off and absolutely spectacular for a black tie affair.
+Cute lavender blockprint daydress from Cleobella.
+Love this ruffle seersucker trim button-down.