Labor Day Weekend in Cali was hot as a mofo.
It appears that Summer is finally making an appearance, and no one in the beach cities has air conditioning…so, the ocean it is. We will brave the chilly Pacific waters because we are so damn hot we just can’t stand it.
Isaac took his board out a few times but the undertow was strong and the waves were insane. Which meant he wiped out like a boss, and then ended up taking a long nap in the sand.
It was lovely.
When he woke up I asked where he would like to eat and he excitedly suggested Finn McCools, which is a chill little pub/restaurant near the beach. They have great food and a super positive vibe. So we walked over and were enthusiastically greeted by one of the servers who pretty much knows us by now. He offered us a great table by the window and we settled in for brunch.
I ordered a “build your own” Bloody Mary (because obviously) and a Cobb salad. Isaac had pancakes and “bangers” aka sausage, which he found endlessly amusing.
All was well and good save for the exceptionally loud pair of guys at the table next to us. I get it. It’s Sunday Funday. They’ve been day drinking, which I wholeheartedly approve of. They were having a great time and a passionate conversation. I’m all for passionate conversation.
Until it turned salacious.
My cheeks burned. I don’t shelter my son by any means whatsoever, but I don’t think he needs to be hearing loud and lewd descriptions during Sunday brunch.
I let it go on a few more minutes, at which point I walked over and kindly excused myself for interrupting.
“Hey guys. So sorry to interrupt. I can see you’re having a lot of fun and I love that. I want you to keep having fun. The thing is, I have a 9 year old boy sitting within earshot, and I’d really appreciate if you could talk just bit more quietly.”
I was as calm, kind, and compassionate as I could possibly be. There was absolutely no reason for me to open the conversation with any other type of energy, and I posited that if I was cool about it, they’d be cool about it. Apparently, one of them disagreed.
“Oh wow, really? Maybe don’t bring him to a bar,” he says.
I remained calm, and explained that this is actually a restaurant as well, that it’s Sunday afternoon, and that there is, in fact, A KIDS MENU. I also reminded him that I did come over very politely and that while I understand he is under the influence, I think my approach deserved a little mutual respect.
Thankfully his friend stifled him. “No bro, she was very gracious. It’s cool. Relax.”
I sat down. They stopped making loud, adult comments. It was fine. Except it wasn’t.
It takes me a long time to cool off when I get heated up, which is why I try to stay cool most of the time. I was calm and collected when I approached these guys, but when one of them was nasty towards me, I felt a storm brewing inside me–especially given that I was in Mama Bear Mode.
For a few moments, this dude’s audacity and ignorance gnawed at me. Bro, I was nice to you–why so mean in return? I went over it in my head a few times and shortly arrived at the place where I always find peace: It’s not my problem. It’s not about me.
This guy’s attitude? Not about me. Not even a little bit.
I couldn’t control his behavior or his response. I was fully in my integrity, and I felt completely authentic in the way I approached him. That’s all I can do; the rest is completely out of my hands.
Here’s the thing: When someone is an asshole, it actually has nothing to do with you.
I know, that’s a hard pill to swallow. We hate it. We think, hey, you don’t get to be an asshole! It’s not fair. It’s not justified. And I get that. But we can’t control whether or not someone is an asshole, all we can control is ourselves and our reactions.
Are we rooted in authenticity and compassion?
Are we self-aware, self-loving, empathetic?
Do we feel empowered?
Do we have appropriate boundaries and strong connections?
Do we give ourselves and others grace?
Do we feel aligned with our integrity and our intentions?
Because the chances are, when someone is an asshole, they’re coming from a deep place of lack in one of those areas. People inevitably act out of their own pain, and many times that pain manifests into lashing out on or disrespecting others.
That has nothing to do with you.
Are pain and lack an excuse to be an asshole? Of course not. And I’m not asking you to excuse anyone for being an asshole. I’m simply asking you to hit pause before you react, and choose not to take it personally. Don’t allow the assholes to reduce you or to fire you up. Remember that they are behaving the way they do out of their own pain.
That’s their problem, not yours. Don’t let them make it your problem.
Instead, consider adopting a combination of both stoicism and compassion. The interesting thing about assholes is that they expect you to either be an asshole in return, or cower before their aggression. They aren’t expecting stoic compassion.
Why not surprise them?