Shampoo & Conditioner.
These are all things I left at my grandma's house this weekend (at my grandma's Christmas party, which you can read about here). Two weekends ago, I left souvenir drinking glasses I got for finishing the Spicewood Vineyards Half Marathon at my friend Becky's apartment.
An hour ago, I parked my car at the mall parking lot then spent 25 minutes walking around looking for it upon my departure.
Just last year, I left my Garmin GPS watch at a hotel in Wichita.
I left my passport at home when I went on a road trip to Canada two years ago. Needless to say, I spent my vacation in Cleveland instead.
I can't even begin to count how many times I've left either my phone, keys, coffee mug, purse, wallet, sunglasses or any combination thereof lying around... just today.
I'm also the person who leaves her debit card inside of the ATM and drives away (this has happened three times in my life).
I just have this uncanny ability to leave any object, anywhere, at anytime. And if you've known me for even five minutes, you know this about me because I leave a different thing lying around about every four minutes. Sometimes less.
You may label this behavior as "scatterbrained" or "absent-minded." I'd prefer to credit my own piety and tell you that, clearly, I'm just not as enslaved to worldly possessions as you must be. My "stuff" doesn't control me like I'm guessing it does you.
That's what I'd like to say, as opposed to admitting early-onset Alzheimer's. Sadly, the latter is probably closer to the truth. I really am just a very forgetful person when it comes to some things. Like birthdays. Birthdays, much like the location of my belongings, enter and exit my brain quickly. The only way I remember my Dad's birthday, for example, is by knowing that it's the same day as Abraham Lincoln's. Unfortunately I can never seem to remember what that date is either, so that marker is only helpful to the extent that I can look up Lincoln's birthday online every year.
I just forget things.
My saving grace is the fact that iPhone calendars exist and that I have lots of people around me who keep better tabs on my stuff than I do. The phrase "hey did you see where I put my keys?" is one I employ often.
All of this makes me sound grossly irresponsible, I realize. But it's who I am... this terrible forgetfulness trait is engrained deep within me. So I should be exempt from any criticism.
Or should I be?
It's funny how comfortable we get with our own faults. Whether its absent-mindedness, a quick temper, a need to over-achieve or strong people pleasing tendencies, we typically are good at owning the temperaments and traits we're born with. Yet, though we may have no problem openly admitting these negative aspects of our personalities, we allow the "born with it" nature of them to be an excuse to never rise above and be better.
"It's just who I am."
It's kind of a hypocritical mindset, when you think about it though. Often, there's the expectation for others to rise above and live a lifestyle of overcoming things they're supposedly born with. I may expect the person with a predisposition to alcoholism to change or the person born into a cycle of poverty to overcome, yet not even bat an eye at some of the less apparent vices I may have been born into.
Here is all I'm saying: lets not hold expectations for other people if we're not willing to live up to them in our own lives.
I'm not saying we should have no expectations for others, I just think I need to exhibit a process of change in my own life first before I begin to critique others' unwillingness or inability to change. I need to start taking things in my own life as seriously as I amplify them in others.
Because what if the things that I've labeled as small "born with it" personality traits are actually hurting me, or worse, hurting other people? I'm forgetful and that's funny sometimes, except for the fact that I was traveling to Canada with a friend - forgetting my passport cost not only me a vacation, but someone else. Or what if I forget loved ones' birthdays and I forget important information they tell me... if I do this often enough, what does that communicate about my level of care/concern for them? Or I lose things people give me as gifts? Does that cheapen the gesture? Does that show my indifference? Would I not be a little hurt or feel a little slighted if I was on the receiving end?
"But it's who I am, I'm just absent-minded sometimes!"
What if that's not a good enough excuse like I thought it was, though? Just because I'm born with brokenness doesn't mean I need to accept it.
Same with having a quick temper.
Or being a show-off.
Or wanting to make everyone happy.
Or being too competitive.
Or being habitually late.
Or compulsively lying.
You can argue that people are simply born with certain personality traits or quirks. Some are nurtured, of course, but a lot of who we are surfaced during some of our earliest moments. But I'm beginning to believe more and more that I can't use that as an excuse to avoid change and to avoid being a better person.
Beyond that, I'm starting to realize that it starts with me. If I expect changed behavior from others, I need to first practice this myself and take seriously the things I typically let slide.
So what are the personality traits or quirks you were born with? You know, those things that are funny and so "you"? But also those things that exist in your life that could potentially bring harm to you or others?
Perhaps you can't ever 100% get rid of some of these things... maybe there will always be traces in your life of old personality habits. But I'd challenge you to not use that as an excuse to be a better person. Just because you've always identified with a certain description doesn't mean its who you have to always be.