He looked me straight in the eye and said, “I think you are annoying.”

My first reaction was to be mad. I wanted to be angry that not only did he think that I was annoying-he made a point to make sure and say it to my face.

Then I decided to do the complete opposite. I embraced it.

You might be wondering how in the hell I ended up in this conversation. Let me explain.

I have a coworker who recently quit and today was the last day that we are going to see each other. We’ve worked very closely and as we made sure that everything was all set for when he officially left he asked me to take a walk with him outside.

We talked about his new business venture and how he was nervous to go out on his own. We talked about life and the best mindset for him to have during this pivotal point in his career. I told him that I believed he had incredible potential.

Then he told me that he thought I was annoying.

As the words left his mouth, I wanted to lash back out and tell him that I thought he was arrogant but something stopped me. How could I have spent twenty minutes telling him about his potential, listening to him talk about his life, and offering two listening ears just to hear him tell me that he wasn’t all that crazy about me?

I strongly believe that life presents opportunities to us as we need them and in this case particularly, I felt very inclined to embrace the hate.

I decided that I wasn’t going to retaliate with negativity but from a place of compassion and understanding. After all, if I responded negatively wouldn’t that mean that we were one in the same? I knew that I wanted to differentiate myself from him and that right here and right now was my chance.

Aside from my initial confused “What?” the next words I said were, “Are you annoyed with me because I’m happy?”

He shrugged and changed the subject.

What did this experience just show me?

That his lack of wanting to delve further into why I annoy him was a clear cut sign to me that this had nothing to do with me.

I just happened to be the pawn in his chess game. Lucky for me I got to choose whether I was going to play or not.

The thing with people and egos is that they always strive to come out on top. As I’ve watched my coworker struggle with his happiness and contentment for a few months now, I can understand that he’s coming from a place of confusion and frustration. He’s not coming from a place of hatred.

If I chose to retaliate from a place of hatred and tell him something I didn’t like about him, then I would be spreading this energy. I would be responsible for making somebody feel off put about themselves.

That’s not okay.

It was my conscious decision to end the hate right there. I chose to not care what he thought about me because quite frankly, if my happiness was bothering him then chances are the issue is bigger than me.

As I walk away from this strange situation, I can proudly say that I can rest my head on my pillow tonight with ease.

It is possible to not care what people think about you. It is also possible to simultaneously be the light where there is darkness.

At the end of the day what is going to matter more, his opinion of me or my opinion of myself?

Will I rest easier knowing that I explained myself and PROVED to him that I wasn’t annoying? Or will I rest easier knowing that I took the higher route and chose love over hate?

As I write this, I am completely unbothered by his statement. I am so profoundly proud of who I am and the person that I have grown into, that he can spend the next sixty years thinking about how annoying I am. I’ll be relaxing on the beach thinking about how beautiful and incredible life is.

Today I chose happiness. I chose light. I chose love. Most importantly, I chose to never worry about what people think of me ever again and that will forever be the difference between him and I.