Have you ever had the over/under argument? I’m referring to toilet paper, not sports betting. I read a pointless article this week that included some odd statistic with little context and even less interpretation, something about 70%/30%, where the wealthier respondents preferred over the roll. If I could remember which site it was on or find the link, I would certainly share it. I mean, I did search online for it, but there’s a shocking number of sites about the over-the-roll or under-the-roll debate. Here’s one with an interesting info-graphic, in case you’re curious. Personally, in the house that I live in now, I prefer under the roll, not that you needed to know that.
Here’s what I wonder: How often do we argue or complain about things that don’t really matter very much? Things that aren’t worthwhile or meaningful? We get very attached to our preferences about things like toilet paper, colors, styles, deodorant, shoes, whatever. I mean, at least twice this week I’ve wasted time and energy complaining about dish strainers being piled as though someone is playing Jenga. (I find it very annoying. Just put the dishes away.) And don’t get me started on people who don’t replace the toilet paper roll when they used the last of it.
Most of the time, these TP arguments or complaints that we have are emblematic or symptomatic of other values or issues in our lives and relationships. Let me give an example. In the over/under debate, when you’ve expressed your preference, when someone else who resides with you (like a roommate or a significant other) puts the roll on opposite your preference, the issue isn’t necessarily the toilet paper at all. Sure, maybe it is, maybe it’s some mechanical thing where the toilet paper doesn’t come off the roll effectively a certain way and you’re just bothered by the waste of extra toilet paper squares or something of that sort. But more than likely, you’re feeling hurt or disrespected or unheard because you expressed a preference or desire and it wasn’t observed or met.
When you find yourself getting upset about one of these toilet paper arguments, ask yourself, is the thing that I’m upset about what I’m truly upset about, or does it represent something deeper? What am I feeling? Why am I so mad about something that seems so silly?
For me, the dish strainer issue is something that frustrates me because it represents a place where I have resentment. I resent that other people are lazy. I resent that they don’t seem to respect shared space. I also resent myself for feeling like it’s my problem to deal with. I resent having to share space in the first place. The resentments aren’t pretty, but they are meaningful. The dishes aren’t meaningful, but the frustration about them is when it’s the scapegoat for feelings that matter.
Until we figure out what the underlying issues are, we’re stuck in a cycle of arguments and complaints and rants about things that just don’t really matter very much, and the stuff that does is getting stuffed further and further down under the surface. We’ve got to bring it to light to move forward.
So, let’s do ourselves and our friends a favor. When we’ve got a TP argument going on or we’re privy to someone else who does, let’s try and get to the bottom of it and figure out the real crud so that we can flush it for good.