Artistic license is such a beautiful thing. It allows me to freely come up with words like “Defensive-ers” and totally get away with it. Anyway, defensive-ers anonymous is a group I made up a few seconds ago for people who tend to be viewed as defensive and I am currently the chair and sole group member. In my head, “Defensive-ers Anonymous” sounds way better than “Defensive Anonymous” so I just…*stops defending self*

Hi, my name is Bola and one too many times, I have been termed “defensive”.

defensiveThis post is inspired by this totally awesome article I read on Gorgeous Brown Skin’s blog: Much Ado About Apologies

Defensive is defined as being “very anxious to challenge or avoid criticism”. Synonyms are self-justifying, prickly, paranoid, uptight, neurotic, oversensitive, *whollup, whollup, it’s okay* you get the point. Another definition is “constantly protecting oneself from criticism, exposure of one’s shortcomings, or other real or perceived threats to the ego.” Hmm.

Am I defensive? Well, yeah to some degree. However, I’m not a fan of all the synonyms above and I’d like to hope that they all do not adequately describe me. For me, the term “defensive” usually comes up in 3 situations: criticism of my art i.e my writing or idea, criticism of my character and criticism of my actions.

I take my writing so personally. P-e-r-s-o-n-a-l-l-y. So of course when I share something I’ve poured time and effort into and of which I am proud and someone else reads it and concludes that it is not so great am I supposed to break into a song-and-dance performance? Um, I don’t think so. Maybe the average person might be like “oh okay, thanks though” and keep it moving but it’s hard for me. I know I’m no Chinua or Chimamanda but I feel so strongly about the things I write and sometimes when the criticism comes across so harshly, my feelings get hurt. The ironic thing is that there’s a particular friend I have that steady gives me criticism who I still constantly send stuff to. It’s usually a healthy dose of criticism but because I take things personally, it can sometimes feel like swords and daggers. (This is not me asking you to be any less honest with me though.)

With my character and my actions, they kind of cross over. Let’s face it, I am an amazing individual *duh* but I also know that I’m far from the person I want to be and so I’m a constant work in progress. By nature, I will offend people by saying or doing the wrong thing or failing to say or do the right thing. The reason I’m mostly termed as being “defensive” in situations that involve criticism of my character and actions is because I’m always (according to my accusers) trying to justify myself or explain away why I did what I did or said what I said. The honest truth is that I mostly feel that the person who is offended feels that way because they don’t understand where I’m coming from and by explaining, my intention is to make them understand so that they do not feel offended anymore. It’s really hard to listen to someone go on and on in anger about something when in my head I’m screaming, “Noooo! That’s not what I meant!” But then when I try to make them understand, I’m being defensive. It’s actually not a nice feeling. Then it leads to a long conversation that just goes back and forth and ends up leaving all parties involved feeling more offended than they should.

I guess you can say I hate being misunderstood and I really find it hard to let people go on and on in their misunderstanding. However when it comes to offending people, I learnt something important from the article I mentioned above: “When someone says we have hurt them, we really don’t get to decide that we didn’t.” I realize that by insisting that the person wouldn’t feel hurt if they understood what I was trying to say, I am not really acknowledging the fact that I have hurt them and that they are well within their rights to feel hurt. It’s my responsibility to apologize first before “justifying” my position.

I’m not making any promises but from here on out, I’ll try to be less defensive especially when it comes to dealing with people with hurt feelings. Maybe it’s as a result of past experiences or being non-vocal about my feelings for years but this defensive thing…*smiles* I’ll work on it.

P.S: Defensive-ers Anonymous is welcoming new members and there’s no sign-up or late registration fee.

-Thanks for stopping by.

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