I often experience a kind of anxiety when it comes to explaining myself.
On the one hand, I tend to be very introspective (this whole blog and most of the creative work I’ve done are based on that). I like lookin inwards and picking apart what is going on. I find that the better I understand myself, the better I can understand others, because I believe that in the end we are all made of the same stuff. We all want to feel loved and appreciated, challenged in a constructive way, secure, etc. I find these introspective moments to be starting points in order to reach out to others.
On the other hand, having to explain myself is excruciating. I will go around in circles, try to save face, and if there is a possibility of avoiding it altogether, I will. I have noticed that the difference is how voluntary this self-disclosure is. Do I voluntarily tell you that I like time alone in order to recharge, or do I feel cornered to tell you that I will not make that party because it makes me anxious to be in crowded places with people I don’t know? In the end, they are both examples of the same trait.
The last time I had to explain myself, this was exactly what happened. For days I tried to be diplomatic about it, then tried to rationalize my behavior, then gave vague “maybe” arguments. In the end, I had to come out and say it as it was. I was sick with guilt and it would have been much worse if the other person had not said “I completely understand. You don’t have to explain any longer”.
I grew up believing that I needed to justify all my decisions, but these encounters remind me that there is another way.
People can show their kindness and genuine interest in another by wanting to understand them, by asking questions and digging deeper. People can also show their kindness by smiling and saying “You don’t need to explain” and leaving those borders uncrossed.
I can only wish for everyone to have the chance to experience both kinds. Sometimes, all you need is that quiet moment when you can feel the other’s silence is not judgement, but blind compassion. It can make all the difference in the world.