So… I sent a girl to the hospital once.
She cheated me in a friendly neighborhood game of marbles. We scrapped. I clawed her face. She got a couple of quick stitches. We never played together again.
I’m fairly proud to say that's the only physical “fight” I’ve ever directly instigated.
I remember that I momentarily felt like a champ (at 11 or 12 years old) when I got my marbles back. On the other hand, when that girl and her parents showed up at my mom’s door later that evening, revealing the stitches I had caused her, I also felt like a bit of a jerk - not to mention, ill-prepared for the swift wrath of my mother once that front door swung shut (lol). Ever since then, I think I’ve subconsciously surrendered to the logic that taking the high road in life was maybe the better way to go. Admittedly though, in the back of my mind, I've always suppressed that instinctive and omnipresent voice from the Mortal Kombat games, telling me to "FINISH HIM!"..
Oh... the pristine and magical “high road”. That’s where one's pride and ego are allegedly set aside in favour of humility, class and personal growth – right?
Of late, I’ve started to question whether taking the high road is always the best and most selfless course of action. After all, it does make you look good in the eyes of your peers, and people might admire you for being quote unquote above le bullshit. But, speaking from experience – I can also attest that taking the high road can really take a toll on you personally.
Being wronged by others is a part of this insane journey of life, whether we like it or not. People will treat you horribly. They will take advantage of you. They will disrespect you. Cheat you. Cheat on you. Abuse your kindness. Humiliate you. Some will basically set out to destroy you.
People. Will. Try. You… PERIOD. It's just a fact of life.
And it’s your job to deal.
Me? Being the beneficiary of my Caribbean mother’s “act-right” teachings during my upbringing, and also being a firm believer in karma – I’ve often chosen to take the high road whenever an awful situation has presented itself. Whether it’s being undeservingly berated by a boss, being cheated on, or being cheated out of money (and yes –all have happened to your girl!), I have decisively chosen (or at the very least, tried) to rise above. I have counted to ten. I have woo-saah’d. I have exited buildings. I have logged off of the internet. I have cried it out. I have quietly (though sometimes not so graciously) removed myself from certain people’s lives without bitch-shaming them, without publicly throwing them under the bus, without shining a nasty spotlight on all of the things they had done to wrong me.
The million dollar question that presents itself here is: “Having taken the high road, did I sleep better at night”?
Did I come out of those situations feeling like a champ? Honestly? Nah. And, that's a hard truth. Even though I know I’m doing the right thing by not giving energy to certain people or situations, the burden of wanting to seek retribution, and wanting desperately to feel vindicated is simply too much to bear. Sometimes the wound cuts so deep, that my immediate reaction is to yank the proverbial knife out of my own back and plunge it right into the heart of my antagonist. Sometimes, I’m just a keystroke away from sending that destructive message, “status update” or making that phone call to expose my nemesis. Sometimes I legit lay half-awake all night, playing over the ways I can exact revenge. That’s just human nature, right? Hurt people hurt people.
Yet, what I understand about myself is that my internal REACTIONS and my ACTIONS are, thankfully, pretty independent of one another. Not always – but for the most part.
While my knee-jerk reaction might always be to hit em where it hurts, I know my reaction is only temporary. It is the action that I bring to the situation that will have the lasting impact and a domino effect on me and on all parties involved. It would be so easy for me to deliberately inflict public embarrassment, shame or pain unto those who I feel have wronged me. And, I would feel rightly justified to do so... For a hot minute. But, knowing that I would then become the attacker is what keeps me from plunging off the deep end. I guess you could say that me opting for the high road is not so much an act of selflessness, but more-so an act of defiance from being baited into becoming someone I'm not. True - I may have to endure many sleepless nights, mad at myself for letting someone get off too easy – but ultimately, I know that by not feeding into my reactions, I’m keeping it as close to 100 with myself as I can.
In several ways and on various scales, we’ve all seen what vindictiveness can do to people, to a community. Tragic and unfortunate situations happen every day because of a thirst for payback. So, I personally prefer to take the road less traveled in those sorts of situations. It ain't easy, but when it comes down to it – two things I know about myself:
1. I will stand up for myself & mine when I need to, cuz my mama ain't raise no punk! and;
2. I am far too obstinate (aka stubborn) to come out of my own God-given character for anyone.
My advice? Pick your battles wisely, friends. Sometimes, to go in for in the kill is simply to allow your opponent to believe they've won and keep it moving.
Also: don't ever get between a girl & her marbles... You've been warned.