nothing is personal

We've all heard this before. 

The ways in which people react to us actually have nothing to do with us. All of what we are seeing in the other person is through the lens of our unique perspective. Projections are happening all the time. And while it can feel like everything is personal, it never really is. 

But when a teacher said this to me, going into further detail to explain, I still didn't get it. If this notion is real, why does it feel like the opposite is true? 

As I reentered a specific community, I noticed that I was being challenged on this subject all the time. Some days, people would react to me one way and then show up the following week with a totally different attitude. Was it me? Was my resting bitch face that I've had since forever the reason?

I thought about smiling more. I basically have two facial modes- RBF or ear to ear grin. The in between doesn't really exist. And yes, this is basically a metaphor for my entire life. Living in the grey is not my forte. 

So I talked to my teacher about it again and she presented me with the idea of a contract. You see, when I am struggling with something, be it social media comparing or wanting to text someone that isn't good for me, I make contracts. For example, I will not contact so and so and if I do, I have to give my blue Balenciaga bag to my roommate. As you can guess, I never contacted so and so again. In this case, I wasn't sure what my consequence would be. I also needed further clarification on how to handle the moment when I begin to take something personally. 

"How do I just stop if this is an ingrained behavior? I feel like this contract is a little unfair. I need more instruction," I told my teacher. 

"You just drop it. You enter the moment and you let it go. You breathe and remember that this response has nothing to do with. Call yourself into action. Drop the judgement you have on the other person because that it what you are doing- judging them for not acting the way you deem appropriate."

And then I asked what the consequence would be.

Eating Mcdonalds, while Instagram Storying the whole thing. 

My teacher laughed as she told me. I laughed, too, due to the obvious ridiculousness of it.

"Have you given this to any of your other students?"

"I gave one woman the Mcdonalds part, but didn't require her to put on her story. She doesn't really do that, but you do. And since your social media appearance matters to you, you have to do it. And you can't say that it is part of a contract." 

If you watch my stories, you know I fucked up. Of course, it was a day after the contact was set into place. My roommate said something that wasn't intended to be offensive, but it was. I tried to enter the moment and release it. I tried to take it as something that wasn't real or worthy of any weight, but it got to me for a good 45 minutes. I even said something to my roommate about it, as we are dedicated communicators. Later on, my teacher told me that I didn't need to say what I said. I didn't need to tell her how it made me feel because it didn't matter. Since the contract was in place, it meant the grossest cheeseburger possible lingered in my future. 

"Don't forget, you have 24 hours to complete this action," my teacher texted.

Yes, we text. This is truly a modern day mentor relationship. 

"Luckily this restaurant is open 24 hours a day and doesn't require reservations," I wrote back. 

So I ate it, begrudgingly, as I filmed it all in the mustard yellow booth. 

"Let's hope you don't do this again," my teacher said, us both laughing in the DM space. 

Since then, I have gotten way better at dealing with these feelings in the moment. While I didn't fully trust that the consequence would help eradicate this patterned way of being, it has definitely improved the struggle. It's not perfect, but I feel way less emotional. I still take things personally, but I am able to quickly let it go. 

"Nothing is personal. Nothing is personal." 

This is my current mantra on repeat. 


Photo by Helena Haro

Kenna Conway