Plea of Indifference

Musings submitted to theĀ Daily Prompt: Stubborn

Dear old friend,

You once asked me: What is the difference between being stubborn and strong-willed?

I cannot recall the answer I gave you then, and that usually means either I don’t even know what I’m saying, or the answer was just too awesome for words that it slipped at the back of my mind; the latter being obnoxiously unproven most of the time. Nevertheless, as the question hangs over my head after almost seven years that it become the first thing I associate with today’s prompt, it has undoubtedly, and unconsciously, left me a deep impression, to say the least.

Being someone who has been alternately called either of the above, or even to some extent “ambitious” despite my own reluctance to admit so, I am probably the last person that would be able to provide an unbiased answer to the question. But I’m gonna anyways because I want to at least feel I did something productive after lying in bed all day doing nothing and not posting anything for a while. Oh wait. Nevermind that, moving on.

From casual experiences in life so few, I can only come up with this answer: when trying to achieve something, at some point there are times when pushing yourself to reach that goal is inevitable. You might need to sacrifice more time, money and effort, and by then, people, either critically or lovingly, or sometimes both, would start advising you to stop, or at least postpone it for the time being. When you go against that predicament, “stubborn” seemed like a befitting adjective for some people to describe you for your actions, while others may consider you “zealous” or “determined”. Other words like “pushy” or even “stupid” would also probably be used in cases when all your sacrifices did not have the prospect to pay off at all. But these are what others think of your decision; which despite of the negativity that goes with it, are all legitimate concerns. In the most cliche yet most reasonable way to deal with them, you consider both sides of the opinion and come up with your own whether to opt out or hustle onwards.

My point is, the description does not matter unless you did anything utterly foolish like drag lots of people into harm just for you to live up to your goals. What weighs more into judgment is if the sacrifices are worth it, and if it involves others, if it is well-within their consent and if no irreversible damage will be inflicted upon them.

Again, my opinions may not be in any way significant, but I believe that in the process of achieving something, especially if it’s new, doubts in our surroundings are common. We know this not only because we are subject to it, but also because we did this to other people, too, and it’s totally acceptable. That’s just how humans work: we judge, hard. Harder when we’re older, even. More apparently if the results of all those effort turns out to hold no progress. But of course, what counts are whether we manage to overcome the benchmarks we set on the beginning. Even if with our own standards it is a flop, we should also remember that failure is common. Also that it should be carefully examined to serve as a lesson, not discouragement. If anything, what is always discouraged is making the same mistakes in efforts to reach the goal, because that means we don’t learn, and that is what defines stupidity.

So, there’s my cryptic, long-overdue tuppence worth of answer to your notable observation-turned-question. What it’s worth for you, you decide.