My sister once joked that in high school I was voted ‘Most Likely to get Irritated.’ That joke was not too far off the mark, as most of my adult life (okay, my entire adult life) I’ve found myself to be the one with the shortest amount of patience of most any group of folks I happen to be around.

It is true, I find this world quite irksome, or more accurately, I find people to be irksome. I appreciate the meaning of this word as ‘tiresome’. I grow so tired of people, their careless ways of being, their intrusiveness…(but I will say that people can also be tremendously inspiring, loving and wonderful)…

This irksome-ness did not start for me until mid-late adolescence. Is it triggered by hormones? Will it pass as I advance into old age? Is it simply who I am? I do work hard to keep this sense of frustration, of being irked (don’t you just love the word? it is a bit silly and fun, so that being irritated or frustrated doesn’t sound so serious) at bay. In other words, I try to monitor my mood and my temper.

I can see seeds of this trait in my earlier youth, where I see instances of fear behavior; instances of being hurt easily (emotionally), such as when feeling left out; instances of taking criticism too personally. So I know this did not sprout from nowhere. (I cried very easily as a kid, but rarely cry as an adult…)

So what does irksome mean to me? It means watchfulness, mindfulness. I’ve had times in my life of pretty serious irksomeness, in which I’ve said to myself that the world is lucky that I’m not a bigger person, because I could really raise some hell. But then I see big guys (and of course men and women of varying sizes) who have unleashed their wrath when irked and seen the damage that resulted, for both them and others. And I realize that it is I who is lucky that I am not a bigger person. Regardless, in a civil society we must practice patience, discipline, self-control.

No matter how I look at it, rationalize or slice the issue up, I am grateful to have kept my head through the worst of times. I can feel frustrated and still try to understand that my fellow citizens are doing the best they can. I can allow the irksome feelings to come and go. I do realize, even in the moment, in the heat of being irked, that it is nothing of concern in the big picture. If I feel irked and let it go, some amount of peace always follows.