I have been called stubborn by multiple individuals with my mom and her friends occupying about 85% of those individuals. Sometimes it’s a compliment while sometimes, it’s just plain mean because they are using the word out of context.
What’s wrong with no wanting to bother people when they’re on the phone? Or wanting to finish something before starting on something else? Or, oh, here’s a good one, wanting to give people privacy while they repair something for you?
That is not stubborn. That is polite.
There are many differences between stubborn and polite and these people seem to confuse between those two words a lot. And it’s not just them, I’ve noticed in other situations where someone would call another person stubborn due to a mistaken in the other person’s intention.
Say you and a friend are strolling in an unfamiliar part of the shopping district, you’re lost and it seems like the only person you see around is the guy standing on the corner talking on the phone. “Go ask for directions,” your friend urges.
“In a minute,” you reply.
“You’re so stubborn!” Your friend comments but in truth, you only said in a minute because the guy was on the phone. You are only meant to be polite but your friend mistook your intention for stubbornness because your friend is probably demanding and wants everything at once.
The exact same thing happened to me plenty of times. Like that one time when the garage door broke as I was coming home from school. I kept pressing the remote but the door wouldn’t open. I thought it was odd so I got out of the car and checked it out.
I keyed in the code and all I could hear was a strange noise coming from inside the garage but the door wouldn’t open. Heart pounding, worried that something might be happening, I turned off the car ignition and raced to the front door. I pressed the door bell multiple times before my mom finally opened the door with an annoyed look on her face. “The garage door won’t open.” I said, breathing hard.
“Don’t you think I don’t know that? The chain broke.” She snapped and ordered me to bang on every neighbor’s door until one of them opened the door and come to help us. It was a little passed noon and something told me that most of my neighbors were still at work.
Luckily, after banging on three houses, our neighbor from two houses down was available and they were all too willing to come over and help.
About two hours later, after a hour-long trip to the nearest Sears, our neighbor manually pulled the garage door open and sat a brand-new garage opener on the floor. He said that the door was too heavy for the garage opener and hence, a garage opener with a stronger motor was needed.
Two-hour into the installation, our next door neighbor came home. He noticed the ruckus in our garage and waltzed over to check it out.
The men worked into the night while the women stood around with my mom, talking while I was upstairs in my room minding my own business. 7 PM rolled around and my mom suddenly realized she had to make dinner. I was hungry too and I would’ve made dinner if it wasn’t for the fact that my mom was disapproving the way I handle things in the kitchen.
She stomped into the house and called me to come down. “Can you go out to the garage and keep an eye on our neighbor while I cook dinner?” She said when I arrived in the kitchen.
Keep an eye on the neighbor? Are you serious? Won’t that look creepy and weird?
I stood there and didn’t move. I refuse to act as a creepy spy. So I said, “Just let them do what need to be done and when they’re finished, they will tell us.”
“Don’t be so stubborn.” Uh, that’s not stubborn, that’s polite. Weren’t you taught that staring at people isn’t polite? I mean, you tell me that all the time. She scoffed, “Fine, then you cook and I’ll go.” She wiped her hands on the kitchen towel and returned to the garage, leaving me in the kitchen without a clue as to what I’m supposed to be making.
In the end, I just ended up boiling some vegetables and stir-frying some meat along with some rice. I went out to call her to come in and eat but she seemed to be so engrossed in a conversation with our neighbor that she completely waved me away. Whatever, I thought and retreated back into the house.
I ate my dinner and saved the rest for her for when she came back inside which was about an hour later. Then, just because mom was being mom, she gave me a lecture on stubbornness and flexibility. I ignored the lecture because what she had told me to do, it had nothing to do with me being stubbornness or my need to be more flexible.
The general lessons are: choose your words wisely, such as don’t call someone stubborn without understanding their full intention. Also, being stubborn isn’t all that bad sometimes. In fact, the most stubborn person might just be the one to save the day.
All Image Credit: Google Image
Originally published on February 3, 2013
Rewritten and Revised on August 11, 2015