Do you have those things that you say to be true because the’ve always been true and then one day you try the opposite and then it’s like: WAIT. MAYBE THAT IS NOT AN ABSOLUTE LIKE I THOUGHT IT WAS?
The most common way we experience this is with food from our childhood that we swear we hate. Because most of us, as adults, have learned that sometimes our tastebuds change and we try the foods on the blacklist often to discover we actually like them. One of mine is mustard. I still don’t love the yellow stuff, but I love brown and spicy mustards!
I have learned to that this phenomena is true in many other areas of my life, if I just make sure to check in with myself every time I hear myself say an absolute.
I’ve got a few good ones from my domestic life. I used to say, “I have to have minimal stuff on my counter. I hate keeping out any other appliance besides the coffee maker.” But then my daughter started toasting bagels for breakfast constantly and she never remembered to put the toaster up and it turns out that I hate nagging her more than I hate stuff being on my counter! It stays out permanently now.
Same goes with her cosmetics in the bathroom. Turns out that I don’t actually have to have them hidden in cabinets. They can just sit on the counter since they get used a lot. As does our nail polish container and the toothpaste. I no longer bother putting any of that stuff up because really it was just me getting irritated every time it was left out and…why? No one is coming over, why do I care if two things of face wash and moisturizer stay on the counter instead of in the medicine cabinet? And even if they do come over, is that stuff not allowed to be visible? WHEN DID I BRAINWASH MYSELF INTO THINKING OFTEN USED ITEMS HAVE TO STAY HIDDEN?
I credit the pandemic keeping us from having people over for 7 months helping with a lot of those type of absolutes. There’s a lot of things I think I only cared about because I thought that if people came over they would…I don’t know…think less of me because my coffee container was sitting on the counter next to the coffee pot? Or my teas? Like…um…do I even want someone in my house who is that petty? NO. So the coffee and teas stays next to the coffee pot now because it never really fit that well in the cabinets anyway!
So I’ve been doing away with all of the absolutes that both a) inconvenience my life somehow and b) I only held because of some twisted idea of what people who come over to my house expect.
I hear people say an absolute a lot that always makes me twitch. They say, “I don’t really like YA books.” And…I mean…if you don’t read a lot then it’s understandable you might only have a genre or two you like. But…if you are reading like 10 adult fictions a month from a wide variety of genres, I’m going to think you just have made assumptions about YA that is not true in all of the cases. There’s plenty of YA books I haven’t been able to finish, I’ll often say: This one is just hard to read as an adult. But I have found so many that open my mind and heart to so many different life experiences that I can’t imagine how someone who reads a wide range of adult fictions can’t find several YAs they would like.
Of course, I used to do the same thing with horror movies. “I don’t like horror movies,” was something I used to say ALL THE TIME. And now what I say is, “I only watch Horror Movies that Eliah recommends,” because he has seen them all.
Yes, even that one. I promise.
And he knows which ones I’ll like and he is always right. It turns out, if they’re not too…real…then I’ll probably enjoy it. Like…if there’s silliness to it, in a way. I loved Happy Deathday and You’re Next was pretty good too (although a little too many sound effects with the mutilations). He’s even shown me ones he thinks I should see, just for cultural reasons, but he’ll fast-forward through the parts he knows I won’t like.
I think we should all have alarms that go off when we say absolutes. And we should challenge ourselves to see if maybe giving up on that absolute and make it a “sometimes” declaration could either A) introduce us to things we might actually like or B) make our lives easier.