I used this term often and it had become the “salve” that helped my team at work move on to focus on more important issues when they faced obstacles or came in contact with colleagues that were not willing to play within the established rules of engagement.
At home, I used it when David and I had differing opinions about certain decisions, or when Joel turned into an angsty monosyllabic creature after a tiff with his girlfriend. I used it when the dogs had decided that together, there was a greater chance of opening a packet of crisps that fell off the dining table, when one held on to the edge of the packet and the other tore at it with his teeth.
This term was not a reflection of an apathetic attitude nor was it a reflection of a lack of passion. Rather, it was a reflection of knowing which battles were worth fighting for, and an acknowledgement that challenges will exist no matter how prepared we were. So why not turn them into opportunities? It was also a reflection of our appreciation for the differences in our highly interesting world filled with quirky people and bumpy roads. Life would have been mundanely monochromatic without them.
Appreciating The Differences
David’s approach to the Chinese New Year celebrations underscored my point about appreciating the differences around him. He was not new to the Chinese culture having spent half his life in this part of the world from Hong Kong to Singapore. However, what I thought most remarkable was his appreciation of what was beyond the cultural celebrations but also the cultural expectations of his role as the son-in-law of the eldest child of the Ong family. He took that role seriously, even when it meant ferrying my parents around when they needed his “ferrying service”, visiting my parents weekly, paying respect to my Granny and my parents on the first day of Chinese New Year, and eating whatever my Mum served at the table even when it looked like it was still moving. David just went with the flow, embraced the whole family traditions and accepted the family quirks with this attitude – Whatever.
When we attended mass every Sunday as a family, he went with the flow of the service and stood when he was required to, sat when he was required to and sang the hymns when he was required to, in between laughing at the old lady sitting next to him, who went off key. When he was required to “offer a sign of peace”, he even politely bowed to that same old lady next to him, bowed to the other church-goers who sat behind us, and gave me a kiss on my forehead. For an atheist who had no concept of a divine being unless he could whip up an exquisite Banoffi pie, I truly appreciated the way he tagged along and just went with the flow of the service with the same attitude – Whatever.
Acknowledging That Challenges Exists No Matter What
At work, the same attitude - Whatever - governed the way we managed issues. When big projects got unceremoniously dropped on our laps, we just took control and did what we could to launch them successfully. These provided me with the opportunity to showcase the team’s strengths and highlighted their respective talents. When the going got tough, the tough just kept going at it. And the trick was to stay focused on the deliverables. When obstacles got in the way, we would mutter “Whatever” under our breath and just got on with it. We knew where best to invest our time and energy – on the projects – instead of mulling over obstacles, grieving over nay-sayers and nitpicking over the nitwitted ideas of marketers-want-to-be.
This morning, we encountered a colleague who snapped at us because she thought she was the only one who had to deal with issues on a daily basis. Funnily, my entire team has never snapped under pressure. They were always composed, calmed and assured of their skills enough to get on with it. To that colleague, we said, “Whatever.” The opportunity presented itself for the rest of the company to see what a complete idiot she had made herself to be.
Picking The Right Battles
Whenever my day did not turn out the way it should, I would just throw my hands up in the air and say, “Whatever,“ before taking a walk for a wee while. Those precious few minutes should not be underrated because they gave me time to think about which battles were worth fighting for.
Lately, Joel had not been joining David and I, when we went out for dinner or a movie. For one, he would do anything possible not to be seen with us two old fogies. It was just “not cool”. Secondly, he had his social life down to pat, what with a girlfriend and a busy schedule with his industrial attachment at the hospital. I missed him tremendously but…oh well, whatever…If he needed me, he would know where to find me.
Whatever – The Magic Word
Whatever had become a magical word that swept the frustrations, grief, anxieties and anger away. It kept us more focused, hence more productive. It made life much easier because with that word, we all learnt to just get along with each other, even when we had differences of opinions. We learnt to accept each others’ quirks and dismissed them as “WHATEVER”. We opened our hearts and minds to new experiences, because we approached every challenge along the way with this attitude - “WHATEVER”. It turned differences in opinions into friendly banter when "WHATEVER" was used as a response to skeptics who thought my gifts as a Tarot reader and Numerologist was "wanky".
When I posted the word "WHATEVER" as my Facebook status update, a friend asked, "Really, Jo? Whatever? Not like you at all." I answered, "Yeah. Whatever. This is the year that I shall not sweat the small stuff, shall not bother with small-minded people, and shall not bear grudges within me. Whatever."
Try it from time to time. It might save you from bursting a blood vessel just because some things did not go your way.
About the writer:
The writer of this blog post is a 44 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketing professional at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 20 year old son and 3 dogs with personality disorders. She's married to a Scot who has been affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" and prays that he does not find out that the term when translated, has labeled him as a "Ginger Head". Together, we create a home made up with more nuts than a fruitcake but filled with plenty of love.
|Photo credit: David Ash, www.singaporemaven.com|