“Gnothi seauton.” That’s Latin for, “know thyself.” It’s a pearl of wisdom from antiquity that admonishes one to be honest with oneself so that one may know humility, but also to ignore the opinion of the multitude in charting one’s course. I’ve muddled my way through life following this pearl as much as I can.
It is in that quest to know myself that I recently sorted out a funny little issue that has been itching at my mind for quite sometime. What’s been itching my mind is something that happens to others which I have realized also happens to me, in an odd way. Of course it should be obvious what I am on about at this point, but I will just go ahead and say it. The thing that happens to others, that is similar to the thing that happens to me, is none other than: resting bitch face.
In case you have not been on Internet for the past couple of years, “resting bitch face” is a thing that has been called out on social media, and seems to have a wide range of acceptance. Essentially it’s where a person’s default expression, their face before they have reacted to anything, is set in a way that is commonly taken for distraught, grumpy, angry, or bitchy. People who have this “condition” often have to endure endless inquires into what is wrong when nothing is, and assumptions that they are upset with whomever they are dealing with when they aren’t. They often become the unwitting recipients of advice such as, “smile more”, and “if you don’t frown so much people will like you more.”
I had a long and uncertain relationship with the idea of “resting bitch face.” Being a Libra, I tend to see both sides of an argument to a fault. I would wonder, if this situation was a burden for the person who had it, why they didn’t train their expressions to something different. Then I wondered why they should need to. I hopped back and forth, never giving much voice to my opinion, chiefly because it never gelled together. Finally things went click for me; I have been struggling with a version of this for all of my life.
What I realized was that while I do not have “resting bitch face”, I have something similar that has been just as much of a burden. For, you see, I am a “steady-state asshole.” Let me explain what that means. If there is an opportunity for a pointed comment, a jab at an exposed trigger, a correction of flawed reasoning, I’ll take it. I don’t do this out of malice, or fear. Rather, I do sometimes, but those aren’t the times I am referring to here. I do this because it’s in my nature. The off-color remark, the racial slur, the non-PC comment. These all come very naturally to me. I manage to keep the worst of it in, but not all. Again, I am not trying to be crass or cruel, it’s just how expression happens with me.
[SIDEBAR: I am aware there are other terms I could be using here, such as “curmudgeon”, “grump”, or “jerk”. The issue I have with these terms is they have too long been in the lexicon of common usage. That means there original meaning has become watered down by use slightly (and sometimes extremely) outside of what I think was there original intended use. Such is the nature of an actively evolving language. Plus, “steady-state asshole” has more punch than those other terms and I think this distinction requires that to get the point across. The term “resting bitch face” also has a perfectly accurate older phrase. Namely, “sour puss.” I think that “resting bitch face” is a much better phrase for modern usage for the same reason that “steady-state asshole” conveys it’s meaning in a more current fashion.]
Life as a “steady-state asshole” has many interesting and entertaining implications. Frequently saying things that cause other people to be confused about whether you mean to be insulting (intentionally, or unintentionally) can lead to some pretty pickles, some grave misunderstandings, and some lost opportunities. On the bright side, knowing that one is a “steady-state asshole” at lease keeps one aware that perhaps a kind word, or an apology are good things to keep handy.
I am a “steady-state asshole”, and I don’t mean anything by it. It’s just how I groove. It’s not you, it’s me (quite often.)