Despite how grown up we might claim to be, being right feels good. Sometimes circumstances are such that we must satisfy ourselves with the knowledge that we are right and be smugly quiet about it. Yet, it feels SOOOOO much better when others know it, too. In writing this, it feels as mature as a “Am Not!” “Are, too!” argument, but I think if we are honest with ourselves, at least at some level, we are all there.
Most of the time these instances of needing to be right can be benign and even funny. While I was living in England, I letted a room from the owner of a two bedroom home. I think we were discussing bathroom renovation when the term “caulking” came up. He didn’t believe me that it was a word and was positive it wasn’t a British word. I bet him £5 that it would appear in the Oxford English dictionary. Of course throughout the discussion I had failed to mention the minor detail of how it was spelled.
But sure enough, in the British dictionary there was the word, and the pronunciation guide even agreed with me! I treated myself to fish and chips with those winnings! [I tried to create a link here to prove that I was right, but Oxford English Dictionary is a paid site. Most libraries have subscriptions accessible online, so you could check up on me that way … and see that I was RIGHT! 🙂 ]
When my flatmate’s girlfriend moved it, we had 3 native English speakers separated by a common language (thank you George Bernard Shaw for that turn of phrase): American, Australian, and British English were all spoken in our home. The colonist and former colonist would take great pride when the Brits used our word for certain things, or we would use the same term and the Brits had it all wrong: brawley, jumper, colander, courgette, aubergine. The discussions about why a term was wrong were hilarious! The “flash light” versus “torch” conversation got rather heated … amazing considering how much we were laughing at the absurdity of the situation.
Not all cases of being right were this innocuous, though. Many times I found myself on the dance floor explaining why something couldn’t be done or why it was completely contradicted by something said earlier. I am one stubborn woman, and I would dig my heels in and prove I couldn’t do it if my objections weren’t heard. Screaming and tears were not unknown – being right was the normal culprit. Finally I came up with a phrase for Kurt to say that shut my mouth and immediately had me back in dance position: Would you rather be right or dance?
That phrase has gotten me out of many a mental rut. So often the need to be right blinds me from the goal at hand, whether that be dancing, staying in a happy relationship, or seeking closure. My magical phrase is the helping hand I need to regain perspective.
What helps you overcome your need to be right? … or … what is your favorite foreign expression that you use on a regular basis? Mine is “Everything is going pear shaped”.