I spoke at length with Nelson on the phone and listened to him narrate some things he was going through. At the end of our conversation, he asked if I had any advice for him and I said no.
“I take your pieces of advice to heart you know. I remember when you said my sandals were ugly and that I had a bad sense of fashion. I never wore sandals again till date and I gave away those set of clothes you complained about. My mother was angry because those clothes were designers and she bought them from the United States.”
“Father Lord,” I screamed, “when did I say that one? Please limit this fabrication“.
“The day we went from Shoprite to Celebrities to see Ezinne.”
A flashback came to my mind and I vaguely remembered saying that.
To be sure, I asked again, “did you say you stopped wearing sandals on account of what I said seven years ago?” He nodded.
I slouched and heaved quietly while I entertained fifty shades of conflicting emotions. I apologized for saying what I said and the effect it had on him. He said I shouldn’t apologize because it made him mindful of what he now wears but I saw it damaged him rather than helped. It wasn’t about finding out the worth of the clothes but the insensitivity behind my actions of condemning his choice of clothes was mean.
In an angry but casual feat, my close friend, Mark, said I was self-centered two days after a conversation we had and he later ghosted me. I asked our mutual friend, Cynthia, and she revealed she used to see me as self-centered but stopped focusing on that because it was ultimately who I was.
I had an amplified emotional breakdown but most importantly, I did a self-reflection to see what about me was selfish. I didn’t see a thing but I believed them because my two best friends could not be wrong about me.
On a quest to be a better person, I told my mentor who made me narrate the situation that warranted such accusation. When I did, he said there are always two reasons for criticism; one is to put a person down and the other is for correction. He said in the context of my situation, it was to put me down and it tells more about the person than of me. I asked Cynthia to tell me specific acts that portrayed my selfishness and she couldn’t recall any.
The thing is, that an aura of not letting people walk all over you can easily be perceived as different negative things including selfishness. Sometimes, people call people they can manipulate, “kind and nice”.
We are too eager to speak without reservation and too ready to accept condemnation from others without reflection.
I should have asked Nelson, “don’t you think sandals go better with shorts or striped shirts better with plain trousers?”.
As a matter of fact, I should have resisted the urge to “shalaye” because of my snobby fashion sense and I may have been wrong. What do I know about fashion?
Mark should have said he felt I didn’t care about his welfare when we spoke a few days ago. He should have told me he was sick and I didn’t care to check up on him. Cynthia should have said, “I once thought you were selfish but I don’t think so anymore; perhaps, it’s because I understand you better now or I got close enough to know you better“.
Whose report do you believe?