You're sitting around the table at a nice dinner that you organized for your hubby's 40th birthday. Your "friend", Greta, is running at least a half an hour later, though you know at this point, she's probably not coming. It's just like her lately. Couldn't she at least have sent a text? Or stop promising to come to things that she has no intention of making?
The cashier at the store didn't pay attention and rang up your pears at full price, even though they're supposed to be on sale for .99/lb. Then he had the audacity to look at you like you were nuts when you called him on it. Why do these people take jobs that they clearly don't want?
I'm sure there's countless more examples out there. Someone does something inconsiderate or flat out rude. Our first instinct is to claim some kind of offense. How dare they do that to us?
It's easy to let things stack up. To build a whole book around the ways people have done you wrong.
But here's the thing - we are the main characters of our lives, and by default, everyone else is a supporting character. It's easy to forget, especially if it isn't obvious, that everyone else has their own story, filled with drama, heartache, and joy.
Maybe Greta has been running late because she's recently discovered that she's pregnant, and with a history of miscarriage, she's hesitant to tell anyone. Or maybe her mother has alzheimers and Greta is trying her best to take care of her. Maybe Greta's husband is out of work, and Greta doesn't want to anyone feel sorry for her.
It's so easy to make everyone else's lives about us, and incidents without their context can be spun many different ways.
While I'm a fan of transparency, and working on vulnerability - telling others when we need help, sharing our lives for better or worse - I realize that not everyone is going to reciprocate. That's why it's still good to understand that when the cashier at the store gives you a funny look, maybe he's extra tired because his child isn't sleeping through the night. Or he's finishing his master's degree. Or maybe he really does stink at paying attention.
But it's not our place to judge or to know what's going on. Just understand that everyone has a story. You never know what's going on in the lives of those around you.