Thursday, September 1, 2022

Tick All The Boxes (#MY Eng 60)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees', 'the elephant in the room', 'practising what you preach', blowing hot and cold', 'no smoke without fire', 'one swallow does not make a summer', 'apples and oranges', 'cut to the chase', 'leave no stone unturned', 'that's the way the cookie crumbles', 'can't have your cake and eat it too', 'old is gold', 'putting the cart before the horse', 'mountain out of a molehill', 'pot calling the kettle black', 'bite the bullet', 'go the extra mile', 'silence is golden', 'the devil is in the details', 'sink or swim', 'once bitten twice shy', 'don't count your chickens before they hatch', 'don't put all your eggs into one basket', 'chicken and egg', 'walking on eggshells', 'flogging a dead horse', 'better late than never', 'storm in a teacup', 'between a rock and a hard place', 'darkest before dawn', 'empty vessels make the most noise', 'birds of a feather flock together', 'separate the wheat from the chaff', 'let sleeping dogs lie', 'open a can of worms', 'light at the end of the tunnel', 'trial and error', 'look before you leap', 'lightning in a bottle', 'on the same page', don't judge a book its cover', 'reinvent the wheel', 'shifting gears', 'throwing in the towel', 'jump on the bandwagon', 'passing the buck', 'breaking the ice', 'cracking the code', 'when it rains it pours', 'bigger fish to fry', 'ball is in your court', 'back to the drawing board', 'square peg in a round hole', 'don't rock the boat', 'a whole new ball game', 'burning the midnight oil', 'never say never', 'get all your ducks in a row' and 'make the hay while the sun shines'.

It's hard to find the perfect match. A soulmate. A good team player. A close friend.

All of us have different set of expectations, principles, and standards of morality. Everyone is different in their own special way. Just like how there are no two identical snowflakes in the world (or so scientists say), there are no identical who think and behave exactly alike.

Then again, as the saying goes, opposite attracts. Sometimes, we're not looking for someone similar to us. Rather, we prefer pairing up with someone who can complement us. Like a keyhole and a lock. Two different items, but both operating in tandem.

* * *

Whether we're drawn to people like us or different from us, most of us know exactly who we're looking for. We have a checklist, in which we measure people based on whether they tick all the boxes.

Of course, that's wistful thinking. No one will ever quite measure up to our lofty expectations. Some of our checklist stretches to a few pages with too many boxes to count. Those of us who keep to high standards tend to impose them upon others.

For myself, I'm not big on checklist. I don't overthink relationships much. I treat people as they are. I see through their masks and disguises. I accept people for who they wish to be.

As a teacher (though some may quibble with such description), I often tell my students that I only care about results - the end product. I don't care how many hours you put in to get a task done, or what sacrifices you had to make along the way. Everyone has their own share of personal hardship.

Have a boyfriend? I don't give a damn. Your workload is as much as everyone else. Got a part-time job? Yeah, everyone has money problems - just live within your means. Of course, I'm not so heartless - I do make exceptions for serious emergencies.

* * *

So as you can guess by now, I don't work by checklist. Rather, I operate by strike-outs. There are a few things that are deal-breakers in my book. Certain types of negative personality traits. Three strikes, and you're out. It's much simpler to count the ways that a person pisses me off, rather than the ways a person impresses me.

Actually, that isn't as negative as it sounds. Because by default, when meeting a person for very first time, all boxes are automatically ticked. Everyone has the benefit of doubt. Everyone starts with a clean slate - a full 100%.

The more I get to know someone, the meter can only go down. Points gradually get deducted. And once it gets below a certain minimum level, oh well, too bad, nice knowing you, all the best in your life...

It's truly sad how fast some people can get three strikes, or how far low people can drop. Especially those which I originally had high hopes for, and stayed in my good books for many years. But that's life. People change, or maybe I just misjudged them all along.

But striking people off my list is not necessarily a bad thing. That way, I can make more room for people who are genuinely worth my time and space.

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