Community Living: Are You the Grouch?
After reading my article, The Negatives of Being Positive, over again I recalled having been compared to "Oscar the Grouch" multiple times in my life. Here is my exploration of the notion.
Recognizing and Approaching a Grouch
If you are even the slightest bit active in your community then it is safe for me to assume that you know who the grouches in your community are. Heck, like me, you may be the grouch yourself. Nonetheless there are oblivious individuals out there who can't recognize grouches for themselves, and this can lead to many miscommunications and misrepresentations of the grouch. The most common misrepresentation of a grouch is that they are someone to avoid completely, and that just isn't true. So how do you discern between an unfavorable individual, and the ever-lovable grouches?
Well in order to determine who is a grouch, and who is simply someone to avoid you must first get to know the individual. Yes, something so simple as walking up and asking, "How's it going, what's your name?" is a great first start. Don't be the type to stare from a distance with cautious or scrutinizing body language, that would make anyone uncomfortable. Communication with your body is just as, if not more, important than with your words and you wouldn't want someone gawking at you from across the way. Most of the time, the grouch is too shy to approach you so in approaching them you've already done more than most would for them.
The grouch will seem a bit reserved, as if they don't want to talk to you, but rest assured and remain confident that the grouch just doesn't know how to present things in what others would describe as a positive light. When they seem to grunt an unwilling response toward you, don't let silence take over, keep bombarding that grouch with your questions and energy! If the grouch doesn't want to talk to you they will tell you so, but chances are they are dying to let someone into their grouchy little world. Even if the grouch tells you not to talk to them, make sure you check up on them at some point in the near future, they're just slow to open up because of the way others have treated them.
If you've made it to the point where you are regularly talking, smiling, and hanging with the grouch then congratulations you've learned how to recognize and approach a grouch.
If the grouch managed to scare you away, then know that the grouch is sad and alone and didn't actually mean to have that happen. The grouch would much rather you be their friend but there are reasons the grouch acts the way they do, and they most likely understand why you don't like them to begin with.
Living as a Grouch
The first time someone said, "You are like Oscar the Grouch," to me... I was offended and hurt to say the least; but like many others I didn't take to heart the message that Sesame Street was trying to convey. Grouches are a part of the community, and just because they are different doesn't mean that they deserve to be treated different. This person who compared me to a dumpster-dwelling, green, hairy, trash-eating monster meant nothing by her words and was in fact infatuated with my grouchy self. This opened my eyes to the mistreatment I had received my whole life, simply because I am different, I am a grouch.
Living like a grouch isn't very easy. Due to being severely abused by my family growing up, that abuse still occurring but less severe and through different mediums, I formed a very pessimistic, grouchy view of the world. I learned to live through what others didn't have to, being forced to enjoy the figurative garbage that was all that was made available to me. Being alone and mistreated, ignored by everyone minus the rare occasion someone would stop to be disgusted by me, is a depressing existence I have always yearned to escape. After twenty-six years it would seem that being a grouch also goes hand in hand with the phrase, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
Make no mistake, my prospective friends, I'd love to change for you but the pain that has warped me into a grouch makes it very difficult; especially when being a grouch scares everyone away. When you express an opinion, a belief, a fact to me I may present something to the contrary in a very intimidating or off-putting way that seems like I want to attack or hurt you. Please don't run away, or at least don't run away and never come back, I love to hear everything you have to say and everything that you are thinking. I'm just a grouch, and I need your help to overcome my grouchy ways.
Please Be My Friend
As of now I have three friends in the entire world. My girlfriend, my son, and a man I haven't seen in years but loves me for the grouch that I am. Looking around me I see people with tens, hundreds, thousands of friends who check in on them on a daily basis. All these people preaching acceptance and tolerance, all the while I'm sitting here in my grouch dumpster with people occasionally throwing trash on me. When I come out of my grouch dumpster and try to be friends with people they are put off by my grouchy demeanor, perceiving everything I say as negative or only looking at me as if I am a downer. Really, I just haven't been given the chance to step out of my grouchy shell and show you I'm just as fun and positive as the people around you.
So I ask today, please be my friend? Be friends with the grouches in your community and give them the chance to show you that they are just like everyone else, just a little bit grouchier.