Opposites Attract By D.I. Jolly
Have you ever noticed how certain phrases, when said out loud or publicly declared, have the opposite reaction to the words being said?
Now I realise that might come off a little confusing so I’ll give you an example. What is the first thing that comes to mind if you think of someone, anyone, who says,
“I’m not crazy!”
“Yeah, I’m just weird.”
“I’m not in love with my ex.”
Or, and this one is exclusively for men.
“It’s not my child.”
The last one is a little different but I have personally experienced the death stare from the actual mother of said child who knows for a fact I’m not the father. But still, there was that moment when her, and everyone else in earshot thought. “Irresponsible dick.”
The “I’m weird.” One likewise is a strange one, because it’s normally said in one of two situations. (In my limited life experience.) Either as an excuse to having just done or said something strange or to get attention and stand out after having just done or said something extremely normal. Yet the same reaction occurs, an almost audible eye roll from all around as they think, “That’s nice dear.”
Another one which I find very interesting is,
“I’m just one of those people who…”
Because most of the time if you have to declare it, it’s not true. I’m sure you want to be that person and maybe you are in some small way. But sentences that start like that have a way of putting people off what you’re trying to say. I guess it’s a bit like creative writing and the argument of ‘show don’t tell.’ If you are just one of those people who, anyone paying attention will notice. And if you aren’t telling people that you are isn’t going to make it true, and again, anyone paying attention will notice you’re not.
But the real question in all of this is, why don’t we believe people when they try and tell us who they are?
Why do we think we know better than them? Is it a general self-confidante crisis?
“I don’t actually know who I am, so there’s no way that you could know who you are.”
Because I can promise you this, if you openly challenge someone on a point they make about themselves, I don’t care how right you are, if you push someone into a corner they will back themselves and knuckle down on who they think they are. If you yell,
“No you’re not weird, you’re actually the most normal boring person I’ve ever met.”
Expect to be come at with a razor blade. You have just challenged that person to prove their statement and 99% of the time, they will try, hard. And sure, maybe some people are just saying these things to get attention but who doesn’t like getting some attention for a bit, outside of the normal, only listening to people in crisis.
“Yes, I know you had the best day of your life, and that’s great but, Person B is having a shit day so we’re focusing on them now. You can wait.”
But I digress, a large part of this idea of simple phrases having the opposite effect as intended first came to me when my first book was published. I very quickly learnt that it’s very hard to promote your own book, because,
“Hey, you should read the book I wrote.”
“I’m not crazy!”
Which is why people, in all facets of entertainment, desperately struggle to get reviews and awards, anything for the people who made the thing to point at and say.
“Don’t take my word for it, look at what everyone else has said about it.”
As a creator of things you almost have to distance yourself from a product until it gets successful on its own. Which is a bit crap,
“I made a thing!”
“YAAAAAAAAAAY!” screams the chorus.
“Oh… no, well what does Person B think of it? And in fact, they’re having a really hard time right now so, well done but we need to focus on them for the time being.”
And again, I digress.