There was a time in my life where I could compartmentalize people.
Before I dive in, let’s get one thing straight:
Compartmentalize means to separate into isolated compartments or categories.
I could love one part of a person, and then dislike another aspect of them. If this sounds odd, let me share an example: I enjoyed a friend because we always had the best time going out. While she was a lot of fun, our conversations and interactions lacked depth. So, I put her in the category of someone I could just experience the nightlife with. I embraced the fun part of her, and allowed a deeper relationship go to the wayside.
Later on, I decided that picking and choosing parts of a person didn’t seem authentic. So I let the friendship go.
Fast forward, I recently went through a situation where someone’s actions were incongruent with who I believed they were. My mom told me: “people are both good and bad”. But I was so frustrated because the actions didn’t line up with who that person seemed to be as a whole.
I started thinking of other times in my life where I may have felt this way. Then it began to make sense to me.
I don’t always make decisions that reflect who I am, or who I believe I’m to be. We have the freedom to change our minds and make different decisions at any given moment.
In the Still Processing podcast regarding Michael Jackson Leaving Neverland, they question what to do with “good art made by bad people”. Here’s another example of compartmentalizing a person. I don’t want to look the other way on MJ’s alleged actions, but I can’t deny that he was a highly talented individual, and there will never be another Michael Jackson. Cancel Culture doesn’t really work with MJ. We can’t mute him like R. Kelly, because well, he is dead (rest in peace) and his iconic songs play everywhere. My decision is that I can continue to love his music and his dance moves, but not condone his alleged actions.
Does continuing to play his music still condone those actions? At this point, I don’t think so. But perhaps you do. And I would love to open a dialogue on this, because I know I haven’t thought of every angle.
As I consider this, there does have to come a point where the bad may outweigh the good. Say, in a dating situation. Or a friendship that is more toxic than positive. I guess it’s in these moments, we must decide on a case-by-case basis. Because after all, it can be natural to enjoy one part of a person more than another.