Last Tuesday night my then-acquaintance-now-friend–let’s call her Annie— texted me an invite to a 6-day climbing/camping trip to Bishop, CA.
I said yes, which in itself is a thing. No is my favorite response to social invitations.
Annie was invited by her friend–let’s call her Whitney.
We left early Wednesday morning.
I got home last night.
I had no Internet connection while there, which was both awesome and fucking horrible because it meant I couldn’t escape Whitney. All my hateful and judgmental thoughts were trapped in my head.
Not that I needed to escape.
Bishop, CA is paradise.
Instead of telling my husband how stunning and serene it is there, how crisp the night sky looked on day 4, how we woke to snow on day 3, how we met so many interesting #vanlifers, how relaxing the hot springs felt after a full day of climbing, or how much fun I had sport climbing at Owens River Gorge, I focused how how shitty a person I found Whitney to be. Because I swear, she was.
I arrived home irate.
It was that kind of addicting irateness that builds upon itself, speeding your speech, hammering your heart, the kind that crescendos into complete insanity.
I felt uncontrollable, filled with this energetic rage, all directed toward Whitney, whom I painted to be a complete shit of a person, because goddamnit she is. I couldn’t even shower. It took me an hour to calm the fuck down and wash off the last 6 days with Whitney.
I still stand by everything I vented–enough so to text her my unedited yet objectively tactful thoughts today because, fuck, she needed to hear it and everyone else agreed and damnit, it felt good to call her out, and also I’ve never called someone out in so many words--but that is not the purpose of this post.
The purpose of this post is to rewind and take a deeper look. What we hate in others is usually a reflection of our own insecurities.
Dear God, no. I am NOT like Whitney. At least I hope not.
Then why was I so irritated with her textbook Type-A personality? I have Type-A tendencies that I try to tame with yoga and meditation.
Why did I cringe every time she spoke? Maybe I talk more than I listen.
Why did I hate how she said “ya.” instead of “yeah!”? I can get short with people. I need to learn patience. Compassion.
Or how she’d ignore people when they shared a feeling or casual observation? I get impatient with excess talking. I need to listen more.
Why did I grow to despise her entire cadence and tone of voice? I’ve always had a problem controlling my tone. I need to be careful how I say things.
I even hated how she’d stretch in the morning. Or chew her food. Or touch the rock.
Why did I resent that she kept offering me unsolicited packing/camping/outdoor/gear advice? I offer unsolicited advice, too. I secretly judge someone every time I see them throw food in a pan before preheating it, or when they follow expiration dates on packages. Shit.
Why did I hate all her #authentic global music? Her Spanglish? Her $700 made-in-the-USA translucent white backpack? Her worn lululemon? I want to be interesting. Traveled. Global. I am guilty of equating expensive with quality, good taste. I’ve never bought myself Name Brand, but would secretly love to.
What about her stories of her time in Mexico drove me up the wall? Why did I suddenly hate all her semi-famous friends, who after 6 days of storytelling, I knew intimately? I’ve lived similarly interesting experiences, damnit, when’s it my turn to
What was going on inside myself that made me so reactive? Shit, are we similar? Or am I just too hard on myself, like my husband constantly tells me?
Because without all my hate, she’s an interesting person. A strong climber. Clearly affluent.
One of my greatest fears is that I will end up like my dad, or another similarly selfish person.
I think a lot of us have a similar fear. To end up like the person you respect or admire the least is mental prison. We all know that person. Some of us probably are that person.
Does it become this awful self-fulfilling prophecy the more we avoid it?
I avoid it.
Or are we just too hard on ourselves?
I constantly think about how I don’t want to be a shitty selfish person.
I think about how I want to be one of those people who genuinely loves everyone, respects everyone, who is down to earth and relatable.
Who helps the world.
Can be counted on.
I want to be one of those people who others look up to and admire not because I accomplished, but because I served.
Because I listened.
A good person.
The last thing I want to be is a self-interested Ice Queen like Whitney. I don’t want to be someone who says goodbye by saying, “Ya. Make sure to Venmo me the beer money.”
Did I cringe every time she said “I’m done, let’s go” because I, too, think only of myself in social situations? Or did I cringe because it’s a genuinely shitty thing to say to a group of people who are clearly not all done?
Did I hate it every time she called herself “so old” and the rest of us “so young and innocent” because I also secretly think I’m superior to those younger, or because she was actually younger than me and I resented that she kept referring to me as one of the kids?
I don’t know.
I want to think I’m not like that. But am I? Are you? Are we all?
I certainly don’t vocalize that kind of obnoxious bullshit, or have I before?, but when I really think about it, I definitely have had thoughts about all 7 of my young and immature housemates, even though we’re all somewhere in our 20s.
I’ve called them kids or children when describing how irresponsible I find them. As if I am Queen Responsible. As if I’m fucking special. As if I’m so far above them. Inherently different.
She was a shitty travel companion.
It was the consensus among the rest of us kids. Her antics ended more than 1 friendship. But a week cringing in her presence gave me an opportunity to reflect on my own shortcomings.
We all know that nobody is perfect, yet somehow, deep down, I can still think and act as though I am.
Whitney gave me a glimpse of everything I fear I’ll one day become if I don’t keep it in check. If I don’t self reflect.
She was the manifestation of all the shitty thoughts I have thought, but don’t outwardly express.
She horrified me.
Thank you, Whitney.