"I like myself and I am fine with myself… so F@ck you for making me look bad!"
That was basically the sentiment most of the smart kids had to deal with while in high school and college. When a professor gave a test where almost everyone failed, the kids would go on rants looking for excuses as to why they didn’t do well, the main one being that the professor wants to fail them all. To avoid a mob of angry parents and faculty members, the professor would try to modify the grading curve to adjust for the lower grades. That worked only when there wasn’t a Curve Breaker (a literal translation of the term ‘rompe curva’ in Spanish). This was that one or two students who did exceptionally well in the test. Their success would make null any attempts to change the grading requirements.
To those with lower grades would complain that competing with the smart kids was unfair, as these kids were so smart they didn’t need to study. What they failed to realize is that the ‘smart kids’ would commit endless hours to studying and reviewing the class material. Since making excuses and threatening others into the mediocrity of the group level was a lot easier than studying, you can guess what the action taken was.
But now we are all grown up, and mature, and capable of a level of accountability and self-responsibility that was lacking during our school days, so this has stopped.
The reality of today’s society is that this same attitude has been expanded to everything and everyone. We see this as people openly attack and shame anyone who puts in an exceptional effort into ANYTHING. From going after the fitness pro for looking too ‘fit’, or the model for being too attractive, or entrepreneur for being too successful, or simply the coworker doing a better job than us; society will attack the exceptional without even considering the exceptional effort the person does. They will then justify themselves with a list of excuses, starting with “I’m fine with myself.” If you are so ‘fine’ with yourself, why does anyone who is ‘better’ make you so insecure about yourself?
And the society of excuses has permeated into everything we do. When people fail us, they don’t apologize, but rather try to excuse their actions. “Nobody’s perfect” or “I was too busy.” We have removed any and all responsibility for ourselves with the general attitude of “you have to like me the way I am or something is wrong with you. YOU are the problem.” By shaming the other person you, not only excuse yourself from taking any responsibility for yourself, but also try to drag the other person to your own level of mediocrity and conformism.
You are not into fitness and don’t want chiseled abs? Fine, and that’s ok. Just don’t put down those who go to the gym while you head out to the ‘all-you-can-eat-buffet.’ You’re not really into studying, happy with just a passing grade? Then don’t try to put down those who pull in all-nighters, every night, to get good grades.
Instead of shaming these people, learn from them. I am not saying that everyone should have the body of a Greek statue, but they probably know more about fitness than you. You might not be as good at math as they are, ask them to help you out and tutor you. Their exceptional efforts are usually accompanied with a constant search for what works best. Ask them to help you to be better.
The other side of excuses is not only not wanting to be better but to actually justifying being worse, as you refuse to recognize when you hurt anyone. If you make a mistake, or hurt someone, or fail to keep a promise; don’t excuse yourself. Take some responsibility for your actions and apologize. Make it up to the person, fix the problem. Stop try to dismiss it with empty excuses.
We can DO better than that, and we sure as hell can BE better than that. And that starts with understanding that excuses are just that, excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your enemies don’t care for them.