Good news! Your compulsive need to correct everyone has finally resulted in becoming universally beloved! At long last — and without any warning whatever — your habit of beginning sentences with “Actually,” has brought you total acclaim. Former lovers and Internet acquaintances alike have joined together to celebrate your heroic habit of never letting a slightly incorrect statement go unchallenged.
The cousin whose eyes swam with hurt last Christmas after you unceremoniously tore apart her muddled-but-workable understanding of the dissertation process understands now just why it was so important you could not allow her to live in partial ignorance for even one second. It was because of your deep and abiding commitment to truth, and not your congenital need to display your intellectual superiority even when it hasn’t been challenged, that led to her correction, and she’s grateful to you now.
“It’s the way the corrections always come first,” one of your friends you’ve long since lost touch with after years of slowly chipping away at her affection for you with your constant, low-level criticism breathlessly explained in an interview. “So you always know what’s the most important: that small detail that isn’t quite right but doesn’t really have anything to do with the topic at hand, and making sure that you always know — always, and right away — just how incorrect you were.”
The sweet, hardworking coworker that you’ve always hated for her failure to worship your particular brand of intellectual sophistication has finally come to appreciate the curtness of your one-sentence emails and the imitation you give of her in the break room when you think she sits too far away to hear you.
The way you constantly prioritize making sure everyone knows at any given moment just exactly how mistaken you believe that they are over any form of closeness or human connection or just giving it a goddamn rest-ness has at long last resulted in universal acclaim.
“Thank you,” a grateful world roars, and you sit back on your heels, basking in the knowledge that you have fully demonstrated your commitment to always being a little bit more right than the next person. “Thank you.” You nod sheepishly. “It’s nothing, really. Nothing at all.”
It isn’t small in the least, you finally realize, this love-ruining, patience-shredding, neither-as-helpful-nor-as-charming-as-you-think-it-is conversational tic of yours. They weren’t the thousand petty cruelties that finally drove the world away from you. Everybody wants you around now. They need you. You’re not alone, nor isolated, nor pushed aside because of it. You’re surrounded by friends, and all of them are smiling warmly at you. Everyone’s smiling, and everyone’s happy, and everyone’s finally right, because of you.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.