I saw the above photo this morning and decided I had to add it to my personal collection. There’s so much truth in it, especially for me. My whole life, I’ve been called “weird”, even by supposed loved ones. I suspect I have this problem because I have an outspoken personality and a rather well-developed vocabulary… (in English, anyway). Many people tend to chafe at anyone who doesn’t go along with the crowd. I don’t like hanging out in groups, nor do I enjoy having queen bee types trying to tell me what to do. I like having good friends, but I prefer to see them one on one or in small groups. I also have a very unique laugh that annoys some people. I can’t help it. It’s the laugh God gave me. It’s loud and distinctive and I’ve caught shit my whole life for it. Other people find it “infectious”. I like ribald, inappropriate humor. Bring on the fart jokes and oversharing. I’m all over it.
For many years, I tried to be more like the way other people said I should be. I can remember agonizing in grade school and high school, trying not to say or do such “weird”, offbeat things and trying to tone down my raucous laugh. Nothing worked, and I became really depressed because I didn’t think I’d ever find a tribe who accepted me for who I am. I also figured I’d wind up an old maid, since I didn’t have a lot of dates. But stifling my true self led to self-loathing and destructive habits. After years of trying to fit my square self into a round hole, I decided I needed to simply be the most authentic version of who I am.
The lovely thing about getting older is realizing that you’re never going to please everyone. Someone will always find something to dislike about you. Fortunately, in most cases, just as many people will find something to love. I have a number of wonderful friends, and even a few family members, who think I’m just great. My husband, who is himself one of those people who works hard at being liked, has told me more than once that he admires my ability to express myself. I have helped teach him that being “liked” isn’t always the best thing, especially when it causes you to compromise your own values. It’s still hard for him to stand up for himself, but he’s now better able to do it than he used to be. He’s told me that it’s partly because he sees that not being liked isn’t the end of the world, because in most cases, for every one person who dislikes you, there’s another who will get everything you are and love you for it.
I have a friend who is struggling with some life choices right now. She’s around my age and has decided to go back to school for a master’s degree. She’s been in other master’s programs and has never been able to finish, mainly due to the programs not being a good fit for her. Still, she has the drive to keep trying and one day succeed. Recently, she announced her decision to get a master’s degree in social work. I piped up to tell her that I have a MSW myself. I don’t use it, or either of my other two degrees, in a professional manner. However, I can’t say that I regret any of the degrees I’ve earned, especially now that they’re paid for. Each educational experience was worthwhile and each one left me with new skills and knowledge. I do use the skills and knowledge, just not in the manner in which I expected.
I told my friend that she’ll find that the emphasis in social work is encouraging clients toward achieving self-determination and adapting situations to work for specific clients. I encouraged her to look at herself as her very first client. The first step is to ignore the naysayers and do what works best for her situation. Social work is going to require a lot of hands on work, paper writing, group work, and hours. My program, had I not done a dual degree with public health, was 60 hours. With the public health degree, it was 81 hours. I actually completed 90 hours– 84 for the graduate degrees and two undergrad prerequisite classes. I took an extra graduate class because I was interested in the topic and thought it would be useful. It might have been, if my life had gone the way I planned it once I determined that I was an old maid. But then, it turned out I wasn’t an old maid, and I got swept into the globetrotting Army wife lifestyle. So now, here I sit, writing these sage words for those who care to read them.
There is more than one way to get through life. What works for one person doesn’t always work for the next. Each person is cut out for different things. You can’t control what people will say or think about you, so it does no good to worry too much about it. People have their own reasons for thinking and feeling the way they do, and you’ll never fully be able to know or understand the vast majority of those reasons. I’m sure that my personality triggers people positively and negatively, because I’m not particularly laid back and I tend to say exactly what I think. If I don’t say it verbally, it usually comes out on my face. I have very expressive eyes and facial expressions that often do my talking for me. That’s why I tend to be verbally direct. The eyes don’t lie.
If I don’t say something out loud, I’ll often write it. People read what I write and some people connect to it. Other people get angry or offended and try to silence me. I’ve gotten plenty of negative feedback on posts I write on my blogs. It always surprises me how upset people can get when another person dares to express themselves, even on something like a blog post. It’s like they can’t fathom how or why someone might want to write something down. They can’t seem to understand why I would write something so upsetting to them, seeming to forget that I don’t even know the vast majority of the people who read my words, and they don’t know me. I have no idea what most people’s personal situations are, or what will trigger them. Most of what I write isn’t for other people anyway. It’s for me. Moreover, while this is mostly a public blog, it’s still my space. Anyone who reads this has come into my space, the same way they might visit another person’s home. Everyone is free to leave my home anytime they want to.
I can be funny and entertaining for some people, yet others have told me I rub them the wrong way. I find that it’s usually “leaders” and controlling types who don’t like me, because I’m not much of a follower. I don’t take orders well, particularly if I sense that the person doing the ordering is not worthy of being followed. I do best when I work independently and am allowed to be creative.
I haven’t seen my friend in person in many years. We knew each other in high school and are now connected only on Facebook. She’s always struck me as smart, talented, caring and kind. While there’s a pragmatic side of me that would worry about trying so many different academic programs, there’s another side that thinks about how short life is… and how there are only so many opportunities to try new things. People are going to say whatever. They’re going to think what they’re going to think. It’s her life… and this is my life. When it comes down to it, deep down, most people know what’s in their hearts and what they can do.
While I wish I were still as young, healthy, and pretty as I used to be– even though my love life is much better in my 40s– I would not want to relive any part of my life. Wisdom is a good thing. So is the ability to tell other people to fuck off without fearing repercussions. In my case, telling people to fuck off happens verbally or non-verbally. I can’t help it. But I really am a nice person deep down… I have a big heart and a great capacity for compassion. If people want to think I’m more of a bird flipping lion, that’s on them. Sometimes being thought of in that way is also advantageous.
Those are my deep thoughts for today. Now it’s time to watch Bill brew his latest homebrew.