What do I need for my twenty fifth birthday? It is not books or jewellery, it is the courage to not be too polite. Why do we have to be so polite when all we get is broken hearts, hollow laughs, deflated wallets or empty friendships?
Here we go again, running in circles trying to find pieces of who we are. It seems like we are going to be doing this for many more years to come. We have been told to be polite and make everyone comfortable. I am not suggesting that we should be Trump, we just need to stand up for ourselves.
Your mother calls to remind you to go to church. This call always reminds of the guy you almost got married to, you never told your friends about the proposal and all. He told you that once you were married you would have to go to church and also not cut your hair. You are still not married and your hair is short so clearly you did not have to. You have come to realize that if someone loves and respects you they will also handle the parts of you that makes them uncomfortable. If they do not,even your best efforts are pointless. It is important to still be yourself even as you try to be polite.
Then the old friend you ran into two weeks ago calls you to go out for drinks. You use the rain as an excuse. He is willing to pick you up and drop you home after. You say you are broke and he says everything will be on him. You say you need to go church in the morning. He says you could do lunch after so that you tell him how you got there, he means going to church. You tell him that you did not get there, you just want to hang out with people you actually care about. That is so mean but why do we have to be so polite to people who do not deserve it?
You are applying the gloss on top of your lipstick before your Sunday afternoon walk. You are a wanderer, you need to make a big decision and you need the kind of clarity that you can only get from walking aimlessly for hours. You have been redrafting a text a million times to a certain somebody. You are not sure whether he will reply. It is always a game of probabilities with him. You can almost feel that you are being a nuisance to him. Then you are wondering why you have to subject yourself to all that. Why can’t we just feel and be ourselves? Why are we so afraid of being labelled crazy or too emotional?
Why do we feel so lost, floating around crowds of people we are meant to care about? From a distance we look so perfect. We are but a perfect collection of disasters piling up. Why do we stay if we hate it so much? Why do we go back day after day, complaining but staying? Maybe it is because we have seen some people drown because of being too bold.
Then you remember the irreplaceable friends you have lost for various reasons. The authentic people who made you a better and happier person. So you put your pride and desire to be polite aside and do what you have to do. You will try until someday you can call them to tell them about your good news or fears again.
Then you also know that there are limits on how the people in your life should treat you. You draw clear lines, maybe demand stuff from the people you choose to have around you. Sometimes they do whatever you want them to do. Other times they make you feel crazy for asking for ‘too much’ of them. It is okay as long as you remember that you do not have to be so polite that you are afraid to tell people to treat you right.
Some people will use their position to bully you. That is when you realize that you have to be smart about it. You might even earn respect for not being so polite. As long as you are still professional about it you will be fine.
Maybe this is my twenty four year self blubbering and life will teach me otherwise. For now though, I know it takes a lot of courage to not be too polite. We really do not have to be meek and polite all the time. We need to be a little less polite when it comes to our health, wallets and happiness.
© Adhiambo Kodhiambo