Content warning: If you think this post was written about you, please kindly check yourself. You are not the only person to ever call me a unicorn and you are likely not the last. *sings* Your so vain, you probably think this post is about you, don’t you, don’t yoooouuu. Staph it.
It’s supposed to be a compliment, you know, to be called a “unicorn”. It’s supposed to make a person feel like they’re so special and so different that no one has compared to their special-ness or difference before. It’s intended to make a person feel as though they are unique.
I think it needs to be said and pointed out again why this is actually rather problematic as opposed to complimentary. All people (and by literally everyone) have flaws. All people have difficulties, bad days, rough moments in time, say terrible things unintentionally, hurt people, are hurt, get frustrated, lash out, and are not, well, mythical creatures.
No human is so unique that they are exempt from the very things that make humans human. This sort of goes along with the “don’t be a dick” post, but really, people who use this “compliment” don’t even probably realize that it’s not nearly as fun to receive as it might be intended.
I am not always the nicest or easiest person to get along with. I’m bull-headed and strong-willed. I stand my ground on things that matter to me and I am steadfast in trying to make the world a better place in small but meaningful ways. This often comes across as me being “bitchy” or “harsh” or acting like a “feminazi”, but the truth of the matter is that I don’t always just look out for myself. I consider the ways in which my actions affect other people. While I care about how my words might be understood and I not exempt from making mistakes now and again.
Yeah. It probably comes as no surprise to many people, you know, who get that people, all people, make mistakes. Sometimes really big ones. Sometimes small ones. I also understand that all of our lives are stories that the rest of us don’t get to be privvy to. I’m not entitled to know the inner workings of a person’s life unless they invite me to know these things. Am I curious? Oh you bet your sweet ass I am! But because everyone has their own story to tell and their own story to lead, I need people to not try to write mine for me.
Which means I need people to stop trying to turn me into a mythical creature that doesn’t actually exist.
When someone calls me a unicorn I feel as though I don’t actually exist with everyone else. It makes me feel like I have this impossible standard to live up to that no one will ever be able to meet. I feel like I don’t have the opportunity to stay “I’m not a unicorn, please don’t call me that” because then I’m just being “overly sensitive” or a bitch. (Yup, been there, done that).
It is human nature to defend ourselves when we feel as though our best intentions aren’t being understood the way we intended. Except, it’s not really the responsibility of the other person to know this, it’s up to the Teller of Words to be mindful of how those words might be interpreted and to share them in a way that is meaningful for both parties.
The thing is, communication is a two (or more) way street. It’s not just “I say this thing” and the other person immediately understands it the way I meant it. There are rules to the way we communicate with each other. As friendships and relationships (I don’t necessarily mean romantic, all interactions in my book are relationships) grow, people establish rules of communication. The closer I get to someone, the more comfortable I am with the way I talk to them. I also adjust accordingly. If something I say is offensive to someone, it’s probably offensive to others and I work on trying to curb the use of whatever word/phrase in order to be more accomodating. When I first meet someone, I don’t come out and say “I love you” even in a friendship way, because those rules of okay-ness have not yet been established.
Annecdotal story time: When I was actively trying to date on OKC (which is a retched site, btw) I had a guy that I got along with pretty well. Took the chance and after only a couple of days of messages decided to go on a date with him. While there were a handful of problems, the one thing that made it impossible for me to ever want to go futher than a single date was the fact that he called me a unicorn. It was a done deal at that point.
So PSA? Just don’t say it. Keep those kinds of thoughts to yourself. While not everyone will take it the way I’ve described here, some will, and it just might be the dealbreaker.
This post is part of the #Blaugust series.