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.
Change happens. There is nothing we can do to stop it. We can prolong it but, it is inevitable. We don’t have to like it but, we must learn to accept it. It makes some people uncomfortable. Oh well.
I have always been the type of person who accepted change. I am not normally a combative person. I do like to challenge things and I am assertive. I also know when to pick my battles. Sometimes it is not worth it to put up a fight just to kick the can down the road. I like peace and peace comes with acceptance.
In the past year, my life has changed drastically. For the most part it is good but, there are some things that weren’t so great. Fortunately for me, those bad things were temporary. Nonetheless, there was nothing I could do to stop it. I had to work with what I had. I had to make adjustments and, more importantly, I had to get on with my life. I had to surrender, embrace the changes, and work through them. Had I fought it, I would have prolonged the discomfort. Now it is just a distant memory. I even laugh about it now.
Life is good and I will continue to give little time to the things I cannot change.
Today is my 50th Write on Wednesday! To celebrate this milestone, this prompt is dedicated to my 9th grade English teacher, Georgia Butler. For many years after graduating from high school and graduating from college with a degree in English, I search for all of my English teachers specifically to tell them how much they inspired me to pursue writing. Ms. Butler left my high school to take a position as a principal in a neighboring town shortly after my 9th grade year. I lost touch with her and was unable to find her. About two weeks ago, I ran into her at the grocery store! She could not believe I recognized her. It has been 30 years since the last time I saw her but, I recognized her immediately. I couldn’t wait to tell her what I was doing and that writing and education is still a huge part of my life and that I now work in higher education.
I have always valued education in all forms but, I have a tremendous amount of respect for those who teach our young children. As with my first Write on Wednesday post I honor a teacher who left a lasting impression on me, but there is also a prompt in line with the them of this post.
Today’s Writing Prompt: Write a Lesson Plan
Teaching takes time, planning, dedication, and effort. It is not a small feat to create a lesson plan. Pick any subject you like. Take into account learning styles, audience, and objectives. This is a great writing exercise to practice something different. It will work every area of your brain.
In my previous post, I ended with how I needed to gain control over my emotions. I feel that control over my emotions is something I will never have, but I do have control over how I allow my emotions to affect my life. If you follow my blog and read any number of my posts, you are familiar with my season of unfortunate events. That time in my life was a period of reflection, introspection, modification, and liberation. It was a necessity for me to gain control over how I allowed my emotions to affect my life, but I was failing at it. I looked great and no one could tell that I was going through my emotional turmoil. Actually, I made it my mission to look my absolute best, have the best attitude, and appear to have my act together. The more my world fell apart, the more I tried to hide it. I was doing a great job until my health started be affected. I was getting sick often, getting various infections, viruses, and inflammations. I was not in control of my emotions. I was still feeling these things, but I wasn’t dealing with them properly. I was pushing them under layers of stylish clothes, Ruby Woo lipstick, and halo of perfectly coiffed, but gradually thinning hair. It wasn’t until I got tired of sweeping tumbleweed of my beloved kinky coils off of the floor, that I realized something had to give. I needed to regain control.
I had to realize that I had to do something about what was happening to me. There were some things I couldn’t control in my life, but there were also things I could control and that’s where I started.
I’m a woman. As a young girl I was always encouraged to be “lady-like”. I was told to sit with my knees together and if I were to cross my legs, I could only cross them at the ankle. I was told to sit up straight and practice great posture. My mother told me all of these things not to conform to some idea of what it meant to be feminine, but for my health. She always said these things were lady-like and good for me. She told me sitting up straight would train me to have good posture and that crossing my legs only at the ankle would ensure proper blood flow. She also said these things showed everyone else that I cared about myself. She was right. In addition to these things being good for my health, they also put out a message.
My mother also taught me to let myself be heard, and not to cower in fear of what others may think. This is a lesson that took a while to learn, but it wasn’t hard. I realized I project a certain confidence that I often found lacking in myself. I have been told that I “carry myself” well, or that I look like the type of woman who “don’t take no mess”. I have taken my share of messes in the past. It often puzzled me that people at first meeting found me intimidating. It was not until I saw a video of myself walking to my car shot by a friend of mine. I was standing talk, back straight, chest out and thought to myself “Who is that?” I could not believe my eyes. I could now see what everyone else was talking about. I looked more confident than I was. This video was a game-changer for me. That day I decided I was going to be the woman I had trained my body to be.
I was never a push-over, but I wouldn’t say that I was the most assertive woman either. It took a lot for me to step up and make myself heard. I knew that part of me needed some work so I used the antiquated term of being “lady-like” to my advantage. I took a page from my mother’s book. She described the confident posture and demeanor that I now possess as “lady-like” because, I feel that she subconsciously believed that to be a less threatening term for a woman. What she was teaching me was to convey confidence in a non-threatening way. I had to learn to be assertive.
Being assertive for an introvert has its challenges, but it also has its advantages. As an introvert, I tend to sit back and observe. We introverts make lots of mental notes in our heads and tend to not act on impulse, thus making our assertion more effective. We can be calculating and often let all the dust clear before sweeping up the pieces and putting them in order. I use the “lady-like” approach. I wait my turn, smile, and never raise my voice. This is not a sign of weakness, but of control. I can maintain my composure while making myself heard and commanding respect. I have been amazed at how well this works. I believe once you lose control of your emotions, you being to crack the shell of your defense. I was able to convey a confidence and even intimidation just in the way I walked. It wasn’t because of anything I said. It was because I was in control of my body. I learned that I also had to get that same control over my emotions.
Today’s Writing Prompt: Ritual
We all have some type of ritual. It could be a daily walk, a morning brew of coffee, or a complex set of steps that you must complete before moving on to the next thing. Write about one of your rituals and what it means to you. Why do you feel it is necessary? When did it start? What would happen if you didn’t do it?