A warning to those that don’t like cussing … there are a few disguised cuss words in this blog.
A Walking Question Mark
I was raised to think inside the box, run with the herd, fit into the norm. For fear of causing trouble or getting in trouble, being reprimanded or ostracized, I quickly learned to obey – to not rock the boat, to listen to my elders and even peers. I became the good student, the people-pleaser. I listened, I learned, I conceded, I followed the rules. I became a chameleon.
Nowadays, my default is to look outside myself for answers. I walk around like a big question mark. I denounce my own knowing and instead, I trust that you and you and you know. I’ve gone so many years not knowing that I don’t even know what I know!
And, in that, a belief was formed which successfully latched on to my every cell and morphed itself into a Truth, with a capital T. The belief that is now buried in my cells is ‘I don’t know. Those outside me know.’
I’ve gotten to a point where I am done with doubting my own knowing.
Everyone around me seems to know with such conviction. I read blogs or hear people talk and they present themselves with such sureness. They do what they do and are who they are without apology. I feel envy of that conviction, of their knowing. And now there’s this strong desire within me to know with a capital K.
If we look at the extremes of people expressing what they know, on the one extreme there’s authoritarianism, bossiness, stubbornness, being opinionated. Let’s call this extreme Miss Piggy.
I’m nowhere near the Miss Piggy side. I certainly don’t walk around as an authority in any regard. I’m generally not bossy. I’m usually not outwardly stubborn and opinionated because, heaven forbid, that could turn you against me.
On the other extreme, there’s agreeable, meek, fearful, cowering down from expressing what you know. Let’s call that extreme Goody Two Shoes. Typically, I fall toward the Goody Two Shoes side. I’m rather open-minded. I listen to others’ perspectives and try them on for size. This is a great asset. Parents love agreeable kids. Employers value moldable employees. People like easy-going folks.
Yet, I don’t want to be Miss Piggy or Miss Goody. My aim is to find the middle ground.
Being open-minded is heading toward the middle I suppose. Being open-minded is neutral.
I take pride in my neutral style. People think what they want to think and I’m good with that. ‘To each his own’ as is said. I tend to allow others space and room to be who they are. I’m open to new concepts and ways of doing/being. I generally keep my opinions to myself and am not argumentative. This is on the way to a middle ground and it has worked for me.
Still, there’s more that needs extracting from these extremes. I don’t speak up much – there remains an underlying fear of rocking the boat or being corrected. I’m tired of being agreeable. But I’m so in the habit of not knowing and not having a strong opinion, I don’t even know where to start.
Stay True to My Color
Not long ago, thanks to a very tough situation I went through, I experienced my version of the Miss Piggy extreme when I went through an “I don’t give a f**k” phase. I reached a point where I couldn’t let myself care what others thought. I couldn’t take anyone’s advice. I put a wall up to shut out any and all incoming suggestions or answers.
That served me quite well. I wasn’t rude or mean. I just didn’t play ‘student’ or believe what others thought or felt was more valuable than what I thought or felt. (Well, I practiced anyway.)
As uncomfortable as it is, it’s time to shed this chameleon skin. It’s time for me to voice some opinions, to be who I am, even be a mess sometimes, unapologetically. And it may require I go to the ‘I don’t give a f**k’ extreme again to release myself from my color-changing habit. At least for a while, to allow myself to uncover and express what I Know, even with the possibility that I may be wrong or judged or ridiculed or ostracized. Maybe my own personal version of the extreme opposite of Miss Goody can lead me to an even greater place of balance.
Know with a capital K
Deep down, I must Know with a capital K and I want to uncover what I Know and own it.
I pride myself on creating space for people to be who they are. It’s time I give myself that same space to be who I am … to know with a capital K.