Once, at university, I sat up all night with a group of friends from my dorm and had a deep and meaningful conversation. Actually this happened many times, but on this particular occasion we decided it would be a deep and meaningful idea to take turns describing each other using one word. When it came time for my then crush to describe me, I braced myself. We had engaged in some flirtatious banter, none of which was deep or meaningful and yet he paused only briefly before looking straight at me with his offer: ‘genuine’.
I took it.
During that tumultuous, identity forming stage which is hard enough to navigate without throwing in academic pressure and the weird moral vacuum that is Los Angeles – to be described as someone who is grounded and sincere, someone who knows herself, was quite the compliment. It still is. And yet, on the eve of my 30th birthday, I have decided on a new gold-plated adjective. A word worthy of adopting as a moniker, of embroidering on at least a few scatter cushions.
Today, I am striving for unoffendable.
There are so many reasons why ‘offended’ is not a good place to be. First of all it’s exhausting. It’s one stop past touchy on the way to bad-tempered-ville. Much like regret or bitterness, by allowing myself to be offended I am holding on to negative feelings about a situation I can do absolutely nothing about. I am going to have to get over it eventually, so it might as well be now. Notice I said allowing because there is a choice between whether to be offended or not. It’s quite freeing when approached in that way: no one can offend me without my permission.
Second, ‘offended’ is naturally a very self-centered state as it revolves around my own thoughts, feelings and reactions. Often times I become offended when I take things too personally – by assuming it’s all about me when really. It isn’t. There are two plausible scenarios: either whatever has offended me was not intended to do so (in which case I am allowing self-centeredness to override logic) or indeed it was intended to offend (in which case the power resides with me to reject it).
Third, if the offensive person/situation/remark was intentionally directed at me, then maybe the source of my discomfort is the truth. Translation: if I am perpetually offended, chances are it is because I’m not being the very best possible version of me.
My favourite reason for becoming ms. unoffendable though has nothing to do with me. It is about extending grace to others, choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Acknowledging that she may have equally valid reasons for defending her ‘side’ as I do mine. Or better still realising that there are no sides. Only people.