The Evil Mix of Expectations and Excuses

February 6, 2008
By Melissa Matzker, Pleasantville, NY

It's said that everything happens for a reason, right? So that means, there's always an excuse for something. And being that excuses generally have a pretty positive connotation, you'd think that they'd be looked at in a pretty agreeable light, right? You excuse yourself to go the bathroom. You receive an excused absence. So basically, it's an act of politeness, validity to an otherwise illegal act, correct?

But I don't know. I feel like most people don't look at it like that. I feel like a lot of the time, whenever I make an excuse for my irrational actions, my regretful blunders, I am categorized as lying or removing the blame from my own self, my own shortcomings and faults and placing it onto another, more vulnerable, culpable victim. Take, for example, the conversation between my mother and me in which I try to explain just why exactly I got an F on a Spanish test last year. "It was hard. I just don't test well. I had a million other tests that day. I had too many other difficult courses I felt needed my attention. He didn't even teach us what was on the test. My best friend and I just got into a fight. I didn't get enough sleep. He took off points for the most ridiculous things. The teacher hates me. My boyfriend just broke up with me. You put too much pressure on me. You stress me out." And finally, my personal favorite, "I'm not Spanish!" Excuses or simple assertions of reasoning I ask you? Hmm—we ponder.

But sometimes, other times, I think the people who claim we use these excuses to our advantage don't stop and think about their own hypocrisy in the matter. Take, for example, parents—not my parents of course—just any random duo out there, but definitely real big aficionados in the department of their child's scholastics. What parents have you not heard say—in defense of their child's poor grades and perhaps overall intelligence in general—something like, "She was tired that week, stressed out, overbooked with extracurricular activities, having a difficult time paying attention in class." But this is just the list of excuses used in the general public. We all know, the real personal excuses, solely held within the bounds of our own home, go much deeper, much further down to the nit and grit of our little promising brains and helplessly beating hearts. "You were spending too much time on the phone or watching TV," they will say. "You were thinking too much about your boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend, or both. You don't care. You don't try. You just don't rise to your full potential."

And what are these excuses for we wonder—justifications of our slip-ups, disappointments as sons or daughters?—slight disregards to avoid the overall horrible truth of failure, imperfection?—affirmations as to just why exactly they didn't fail us as parents? I don't know, the whole system seems a little out of whack to me. Can't we just analyze our own mistakes, our own shortcomings, learn to either figure out how to overcome them or deal with them, without the burden of our parents not being able to accept and deal with our disappointing actions, in which they inadvertently react to, to such a terrible, overdramatic extent?

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