I sat on a park bench today, admiring the flowering trees, just now beginning to bloom. I had been walking for a while, not thinking about anything in particular. Just noticing the colors. Yellow, white, pink, red, and of course, green.
As I sat on the park bench, a young couple walked by. A man and a woman. They were both talking, seemingly at once, and I didn’t hear the subject of their conversation. I only heard one remark. The man said to the woman, “You’re always focusing on the negative.”
The woman protested, but I didn’t hear exactly what she said. They were both wearing masks, so maybe I would have had an easier time eavesdropping if this were a spring day pre-pandemic.
The man’s comment made me think of my parents. My father would often ask my mother, “Why are you so negative?”
But the question was always rhetorical. He didn’t expect her to explain or excuse her perceived “negativity.”
I often worry about being too negative. Perhaps it stems from my father always hounding my mother about it. But I think it also stems from social pressure.
Women are often expected to be pleasant, to not complain. But the thing is, women are very observant, and really, all humans notice and fixate on the negative. It’s how we decide which problems need addressing.
In my parents’ case, I think my father didn’t want to field my mother’s questions. His question was a retort to her inquiries. She would maybe ask, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? What if this-and-this-and-this happens?”
To which my father would reply, “Why are you so negative?”
The other day, I said to my partner, after I had been complaining about something, “Sorry. I guess I’m being negative. I shouldn’t complain.”
And my partner asked, “What’s wrong with complaining?”
I guess, if he can handle hearing my complaints, maybe it’s not a negative thing.