In talking to my cousin about life, he loves to say that situations have layers. I am quick to come to conclusions and make decisions, but he often reminds me of the layers. I tend to overlook the layers, but I realize that I have them too.
Let me explain what he means by layers. Layers are those experiences that determine how one reacts to things, people, and situations. For instance, I will not eat watermelon in public because of the stereotype associated with African Americans loving watermelon. I love watermelon, but I will not eat it in public because I have attached a negative image to my eating watermelon. I will turn it down if offered to me even though I really love it. I’m not quite sure if the stereotype is a negative one, but I still will not be seen in public eating watermelon. I know it’s silly, but that’s not enough for me to change that behavior. So if I were turn watermelon down in public and asked why, my cousin would say there are layers to my decision. Basically, the decision and the reasons behind it are more complex than it appears.
I am generally intolerant of bad behavior. I do not take into account the “layers” behind the situation. I am quick to disassociate with a person who I feel has treated me unjustly. There have been several instances of my ending relationships rather abruptly because I don’t feel it important for me to understand the why. I would rather remove myself from the relationship entirely. My cousin often reminds me of the layers behind people’s actions. I’m on the fence on whether or not to take these layers into consideration or not. I do think it is best to remove yourself from a toxic situation as to not add any negative layers to your own life.
I feel that it is important to acknowledge these layers and not to judge people too harshly. So if I turn down your watermelon at a public function, don’t take it personally. There are layers behind that situation. I’m working on it.
It has become evident to me that being humble is quickly fading away.
To many people, being humble is a weakness or a lack of confidence, but to me it has always meant something different. One can be humble and confident. The two are not mutually exclusive. When I think of being humble, I think of being a person who is well aware of their gifts, talents, and accomplishments and also aware of their weaknesses, shortcomings and goals yet to be attained. Having made significant accomplishments does not mean there is no room to grow or that any shortcoming or weakness should be dismissed or ignored.
I am reminded of an incident in my hometown of a student who was gifted academically and athletically. The student earned many scholastic awards and several scholarships for academic and athletic merit. Unfortunately, that student made a series of poor decisions and was arrested. Of course the incident received attention on all of the local news outlets as this highly decorated student had fallen victim to the trappings many young people face. What surprised me was the reaction of the student. The student did not take ownership of the wrongdoing, but instead reacted with anger towards those who mentioned or passed along news of the arrest. I am well aware there is a certain type of person who loves to see the mighty fall from grace, but the student’s reaction was troubling to me. I am also well aware that the highly accomplished, gifted, and talented fall victim to the same temptations as everyone else, but those gifts and accomplishments do not excuse or dismiss bad behavior or eliminate the consequences of poor decisions. The student’s reaction was that of prideful boasting of previous accomplishments and a dismissive wave of the hand to the arrest record. All of this documented on the student’s social media site and quickly spread like wildfire. Certainly one poor decision does not take away all of your accolades, but those accolades should not excuse one from misconduct.
In my opinion, there has been a major shift in values. With the rise of social media and instant access to almost everything, we have been taught to create a cult of personality with little to no attention paid to maintaining an honorable reputation.
This post was just to vent my personal frustration. I have no solutions to offer other than to challenge all of us to protect ourselves from valuing the trivial and transient and to place your value in the things that cannot be replaced.
I have very few friends and even fewer close friends. As an introvert I’ve always felt that was the reason for my small circle of friends. Recently, have been meeting lots of new people and forming many new relationships. I began to ask myself what was it about the few people I allow in my inner circle that sets them apart from others. Almost all of the people I’ve come into contact with have been very pleasant, but I’ve only formed meaningful and close relationships with very few. Usually those relationships progressed very quickly and I knew almost immediately after meeting those people that I wanted them to be a significant part of my life.
I believe instinctively I was able to tell the character of those people. What I would like to examine is how we can prevent a lot of heartache and disappointment by determining the difference between character and personality. I will first start with personality as it is the most superficial of the two. Personality can be very surface level. You can immediately tell if a person is outgoing or withdrawn, confident or insecure, etc. This distinctions should be judged as superficially as they are presented. They are not the true measure of a person’s character. A person have the best, most welcoming personality and also be a pathological liar.
Determining a person’s character takes close observation. You need to see what they value, and how they treat themselves and others. To truly value another person, one must first value oneself. I have found that although everyone has some level of insecurity, those who are confident and self-assured are some of the most genuine and caring people. Extreme insecurity often manifests itself in the way those extremely insecure people treat others and themselves. With a certain level of confidence and self-assurance comes the ability to be open and honest with others. Being confident does not mean that you do not feel that there is room for improvement in your life, it just means that you are able to recognize and accept the things you need to work on. When you are honest with yourself, you can be honest with others. There is nothing to hide or mask. With confidence comes vulnerability and vulnerability is the foundation of any good and lasting relationship.
Those who only operate on surface-level tend to be more inclined to hide their true intentions. These people tend to focus all their attention an efforts on creating a outward persona and not on a true development of their character. They are usually the ones who are wearing a mask and only concerned with how things on the outside appear. They feel the need to overcompensate with personality to make up what they are lacking in character. They lack the vulnerability to truly allow for a meaningful relationship, thus making it impossible to allow other people to know them authentically.
In my last Write on Wednesday post the prompt was to write about what you would do if you did not have your would not have any consequences to your actions and how would you feel about it. This lead me to ask myself the same question and not as just an writing exercise, but to really understand the reasons why I am who I am. This process led me to create a series of posts on morality and what I have observed in myself and others.
Many years ago after the infamous Rodney King incident and the looting and destruction that followed, I heard may others say that if they were in the midst of the rioting they too would have grabbed a TV or a VCR. I was surprised as many of the people who said they would shoplift during a riot wouldn’t shoplift under any normal circumstances. To me stealing is stealing whether everyone else is doing it or not. What makes it any different if the storefronts of businesses were smashed open and all of the merchandise was insecure? Is your moral code subject to circumstance and is that acceptable?
- Write On Wednesday #12 (ibourgie.wordpress.com)