“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it’s going with my girlfriend – but I don’t give a shit, man, because you’re you. My parents have a shit ton of black Santas,* but that’s okay. They’re them. I’m too obsessed with a reference website to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That’s okay, too. That’s me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You’re funny, and you’re smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.” – Radar, Paper Towns
John Green is the acclaimed author of An Abundance of Katherines & The Fault in Our Stars. He also wrote one of my favourite books, Paper Towns.
Paper Towns was a book that I highlighted many a quote in and the one above is one which has always struck me as a profound lesson for us all. To me, it explains how everyone has their flaws and may not always act in the way we expect of them – but at the end of the day, it’s what makes them them and you you.
Despite being in the same situation, we can all have different reactions and responses to that one situation. It can then be very easy to get annoyed if someone doesn’t see things from our perspective or take the same actions as we would. We can have expectations of ourselves while others have completely different expectations of themselves – and when ideals clash, misunderstanding and tension can build.
However, I’ve come to believe that this is a colossal waste of our own energy and brings unnecessary negativity into our lives. Unless someone is deliberately going out of their way to sabotage you, is there really a point in getting wound up? It’s not always an easy thing to do but I’ve learned that sometimes you have to take a deep breath and just accept that a) everyone has a reason behind their behaviour or b) leopards don’t change their spots. Ever.
By no means am I suggesting you don’t stick up for yourself when you are wronged – but there really is many things that are easier just to let go of than anything else. Choosing your battles, as they say.
As Radar points out to him, Quentin is infamously unpunctual – but he always turns up eventually. What we first perceive as someone letting us down may be explained away and made up for in time. It’s the age old concept of expectation v reality; no one is going to act in reality exactly as we expect – that is just not real life. We can hardly predict our own actions, never mind anyone else’s! We all have our own stuff going on – and as Paper Towns also notes, “what a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person.”
Is that philosophical enough for everyone? It’s just a bit of food for thought and something I wanted to share because letting the actions of others get you down can be really unhelpful for your own well-being. And staying positive is easier done if you’re not focusing on the things that can’t be changed (duh…)
*Yeah, so this character’s parents obsessively collect black Santa figurines/decor and I’m not sure if it symbolises an exaggerated black pride or if Green just randomly put that in…