I recently became aware that I’m holding grudges. I mean more than the appropriate small handful that we should all have to keep us interesting. Having no grudges is just showing off, and frankly, suspect if you are a regular human being. If you truly don’t have any, go get in the line for Goody Two-Shoes and Apparent Saints, and good luck to you because you will most likely expire from being an annoying bore.
I had a tasteful number of grudges against distant coworkers, and I thought that was it. Seemed harmless enough, and there is something that feels good about rehashing how a coworker wronged me. It makes me feel superior and virtuous in a way that is not at all like being a goody two-shoes.
But it’s a slippery slope. As I get more skilled at my job, I feel more empowered to hold grudges against more people who can’t measure up. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I was telling my coworker (who I do not have a grudge against) about a few new people I had come in contact with who were annoying or rude, and I decided to not be as helpful as I could be. Made me feel like a badass, and also helped me provide a teaching moment. Dear annoying rude person, this is what happens when you cross me. Good luck getting the information only I know. Cue Vincent Price evil laugh.
Then an old grudge surfaced, so I retold the story of that grudge. And as I was telling it I couldn’t remember when the original insult had taken place. I’m still not sure but it could easily be 6 or 7 years ago. This person applied for a job as an assistant to my group. We offered her the job, and she did the “Oh, my current manager offered me more money and the position I really wanted” thing. I get that is normal business practice, and if you pull that crap on me, I’m holding a grudge. And I did it very well. But now she works for another department and we have maybe 2-3 interactions a year. The most recent one irritated me, and I was ready to jump down her throat for what I considered not checking her work, but then I realized I had also made a mistake. Dammit. It’s also getting awkward because a coworker I really like, likes working with her.
So I took a metaphorical look behind me, and realized I’ve got quite a few grudges stacking up in a pile.
While I was contemplating that pile, and trying to channel Marie Kondo, the goddess of sparking joy by organizing and tidying up, I got blind-sided by some family grudges that I thought I had examined, folded neatly, and put away … from 25 years ago. I barely even remembered the grudges in the first place. And with just one recent event, it popped out of the drawer in full grudge glory, with anger, and feelings of being wronged, and, yep, that superiority.
And then suddenly, like the houses the Marie Kondo visits that are stuffed with things — clothes, furniture, collections of buttons from the 1900s — I felt cluttered and weighed down. Also, I’m realizing some grudges have an expiration date — hanging onto a single event for a long time, just makes me look lame. And some never seem to go away, no matter how much I thought I had handled them like responsible adult.
Forget about being a better person, having more than a few hobby grudges takes energy and time, and memory, and I am not giving those away for free any more. I’m culling the whole bunch until I get to just one or two really good ones. So goodbye, woman who spurned my job offer 7 years ago; and hello annoying guy who emailed me 5 times with follow up questions after I told him I (truly) didn’t have the information he needed. Oh the things I will teach you.