Who Do You Think You Are?

While there are any number of answers which you might think of to answer this question, there is in fact, only one. No matter who you are, what you do, where you live, or how you look…you are whoever you think you are. If you’re anything like me, you have had people ask you who you thought you were on more than one occasion.

One thing which is common when it comes to this question, is that no matter how old you are when someone asks it of you, it usually doesn’t feel very good. When people ask this question, it isn’t usually meant in a kind way. They are usually asking it to imply that they feel that the person that they’re asking it of is inferior, not good enough, impractical, or some other derogatory thing. While many of us have been asked to this sort of question, there are those who are subjected to it more than others.

The adults who are asked this question the most are women, people with illnesses, the disabled, and creative people. Those who fire off this question do so for several reasons. They ask it in an attempt to “put someone in their place”, to point out to someone that they aren’t measuring up in some way (in their opinion), to diminish self esteem, to manipulate, or to be critical of another person’s choices. Whether the question is asked directly or implied by making a statement, it has the potential to be damaging.

The most recent incident of something along this vein in my own life wasn’t all that long ago. As most of you know, there are a few things about me which make me a potential target for this type of behavior…I am a woman, I am creative, and I have chronic illnesses. Not too long ago, someone made the statement to me that thinking that writing was going to be a way for me to become more financially stable was impractical. Not only that, but that the odds were stacked against my being successful enough at it to make a difference in my life because so many people want to do it. The person went on to say that it was a nice thing to do in order to give me something to do so that I didn’t get bored.

I’ve also been asked who I thought I was to think that I was qualified to provide intuitive services for others…and wasn’t I worried that others would think that I was weird? In the past someone making statements of this nature and asking me that sort of question bothered me tremendously and made me feel diminished. There were times when I felt so defeated that I quit doing the things that mattered to me because I bought into the implied answer to what this question almost always is. “Who do you think you are?” No one. Not good enough. Foolish. That’s what the desired impact most often is.

If you have had this happen, please don’t be hard on yourself and do not be discouraged. It doesn’t matter who anyone else thinks that we are. What does matter is who we think we are. Even though this is irrelevant, I wish to talk about it anyway…in order to shine a light on it. When a person feels the need to go after someone in this way, it is a reflection on them…a reflection of their own fears and insecurities…or a reflection of work that they need to do on themselves. Think about it…what type of person has a need to do try to tear someone else down?

It isn’t someone who is good with themselves. It isn’t someone with a loving and compassionate heart. It isn’t someone who is fully happy with their own life. Under the circumstances of being good with yourself, having a loving heart, and happiness with your own life…there is no room or proclivity to tear down another. Period. As I said, this doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, because it isn’t your responsibility to understand why someone is the way that they are. And, it certainly isn’t your responsibility to put up with it. The important thing is how you feel about yourself, not as a result of what anyone else says or does…what you and you alone think.

Your gender, your spirituality, your state of health, your ability to work at a ‘normal’ job, your choice of career…none of this makes you inferior or superior. What matters is who you are at your core. All of the other stuff is just stuff, and no one has a right to question or judge any of it. You do not owe anyone an explanation. It is so important to find your own unique brand of happiness, and not measure yourself against anyone else. Follow your passions to the best of your ability and know that it is good enough.

I didn’t go into when children, people who are not of a straight sexual orientation, or racial minorities are asked this type of question in this post, because those issues simply cannot be lumped in with what I’ve discussed here today. While I cannot do all of this justice in this post…I will openly and gladly state that I do not find it acceptable that racial minorities, those of other than straight sexual orientations, and kids are asked this question either. If anyone finds themselves thinking about asking it…the reality is that some self examination would serve them much better.

So…who do you think you are? The only answer and opinion that matters, and that you need to take or not take action on, is your own.

 

 

 

Zany

For my final entry in this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge I choose the word zany. As defined by Merriam-Webster the word as an adjective means: showing or marked by a lack of good sense or judgement.

I started feeling that I matched this definition by around the letter P, which oddly enough is probably about where I started to the year before. As much fun as it is meeting some great people, it can start to make a person feel just a little kooky.

And of course I had to add insult to my own injury by also signing up for a national poetry month challenge as well. What in bloody hell was I thinking? Yes there has been a lot of whining and kvetching going on around here over the past week or so. In all truth even though it’s driven me almost insane a few times, it’s been a well needed kick in the writer’s block.

Will I be doing this again next year? I’m not sure. After three years, I have to admit to feeling a little burned out. Then again, I said the same thing last year. That gives me a whole year to make the decision…which I think that even my extremely indecisive self can manage. In the meantime, thanks to all of you for the camaraderie. Feel free to continue visiting!

Youthful

Below are a few quotes by some famous people about the quality of youthfulness:

*For some reason I can’t explain, artist and musicians tend to look younger than our age. Being in music, you need this youthful sense of discovery and wonder for what you’re doing and keep your imagination open. That’s a youthful way of looking at life and I think that reflects in how you age. ~Joshua Bell

*The writers who have the deepest influence on one are those one reads in ones more impressionable, early life, and often it is the more youthful works of those writers that leave the deepest imprint. ~J.M. Coetzee

*So curiosity, I think, is a really important aspect of staying young or youthful. ~Goldie Hawn

I have always believed that being youthful is key to our imagination and to manifesting our dreams. The sense of wonder, being impressionable, and curiosity that the above celebrities mentioned are the hallmark traits of youth and successful artists, writers, actors, musicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, etc.

Why? Because these traits keep our minds open and us feeling alive. It is easy to get bogged down with life’s challenges…to let ourselves grow old physically, mentally, and emotionally…believe me I do understand that. Sometimes we feel squashed and suppressed by our lives and even the people in them. Before we know it we can find ourselves doing little more than going through the motions and seeing our world in black and white…all color and vitality sapped out of it.

I’ve worked pretty hard over the past few years to regain a youthful attitude and outlook on life. Before I allowed some hardships in life to drag me under, I had pretty much always been youthful in spirit. Over time though, I sacrificed a lot of that because I was afraid of how I was being received by others…of being seen as an impractical dreamer (I was told that I was over and over again)…of failing to live up to the expectations of others…of being disliked.

Over time, such a feeling of resignation and fear became so embedded in my very core that I found myself utterly lost…not just my sense of direction in life which was also the case…but all of me. What has changed? I finally realized that no matter how much of myself I gave up that it wasn’t going to make my detractors and/or abusers really care…to treat me with love and respect. For a while I didn’t know quite what to do, but then I just simply decided that I no longer care that everyone likes me. Sure, it’s great to have people in our lives who honestly and truly like us, but that is the difference. Those who do, like us as we are. Those who really don’t not only berate us for who we are, they will also turn around and berate us for being who they’ve told us they want us to be too…or at least there will be ever changing demands because it really isn’t about us at all. It took me a long time to learn that it wasn’t.

So what have I done? I’m looking at the world through the eyes of a child again, giving myself permission to be silly and laugh out loud, letting my imagination come back to life, not worrying if anyone else thinks that what I do, say, or believe is acceptable which is not to be confused with not caring. I still care about others just as much, if not more than I ever did. I’ve just learned that I can be myself and be a good person all at the same time…actually that the two go hand in hand. While I may be 41 years old and working through this stuff to figure out where I’m headed, I say it’s better late than never.

Have you been able to hold on to or regain a youthful state of being? If you’ve lost your way, can you think of ways to get it back?

I’ll leave you with this sweet old song/video by Rod Stewart…these are my wishes for all of you. ❤







Xenophobia

Merriam-Webster defines xenophobia as: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.

While feeling a little trepidation about people or things which aren’t known to us is understandable, feeling extreme fear or hatred is beyond my comprehension…unless we’re talking about jumping from a bridge with a bungee cord attached to my ankle…that’s the sort of unknown which would instill fear in me for sure. For the purpose of this post however, let’s focus on people.

To feel hatred of someone just because they look, speak, or believe differently than we do has been the cause of so many of the most tragic, atrocious acts in our history…both ancient and recent. Think about the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Salem witch trials, and the genocide at Darfur just to name a few. All of these tragedies occurred due to the type of hatred we’re talking about.

I won’t even try to examine the various so called reasons behind acts such as the ones mentioned, because that would be almost like offering an excuse for something inexcusable. When it comes down to it, there just is no reason. I feel very fortunate to have never felt those sorts of feelings toward others. In some ways, it’s sort of hard to fathom given where I come from…which is a place where there is little to no diversity.

Despite growing up in a place with a lot of xenophobia, I believe that I was able to escape that mindset because there were so many things about me and my family which were different. It wasn’t easy, not that I am complaining, because all of the experiences I’ve had in my life both good and bad have formed me into the person I am today. At the time it was very difficult to be singled out due to those differences and while it was mild comparatively, it was enough to teach me how it felt, and to know that I would not want to inflict those feelings upon anyone else.

How do you feel about this?

Wistful

The definition of the word wistful seems to include the same traits no matter which dictionary I consult. I know…that’s usually the way that it goes, but I was trying to find a definition which would exclude the word melancholy. No luck!

So to use Merriam-Webster once again: Full of yearning or desire tinged with melancholy.

I’m not sure about all of you, but I’ve definitely been in this state of mind before…several times, especially when I was younger. Back in those days, sometimes my wistfulness was related to a guy. Some of you are probably shaking your heads at me, but I’m just keeping it real. Some of you are probably familiar with either having a crush on a guy who didn’t even know that you existed or worse, that feeling which washes over you when you are missing someone with whom a relationship had ended…even if you are the one who ended it.

Wistfulness can relate to things too. Like maybe when you were a young child and wanted nothing more than the ice cream which your parents for some reason would not let you have right before dinner…or better yet…instead of dinner. Maybe there was a car that you practically drooled over when first learning how to drive. I remember being sixteen years old and having my heart set on a vintage MG Spider convertible and feeling crushed that I couldn’t have it. More than likely, I’ll always remember that car. It was a rich metallic chocolate brown with a cream colored interior…the leather on those seats felt like butter! Oh yeah…wistful for sure. I’m a bit of a car nut and always have been.

As I’m writing this post I can think of a few more things I have been wistful over. Here’s one more example. I can remember having a dream at least twenty years ago about this house…one I’ve never seen in real life before, at least that I can remember. The house itself is pretty simple really, but there are certain things about it which made it special. In the kitchen, there were beams in the ceiling which had drying herbs hanging from them in the dream. There was a kitchen garden in the back and this dream was so vivid that I still had the scent of the herbs between the stones in the sun when I woke up. There was a willow tree, the outside of the house seemed like it must have been red cedar shingle or something like it, and then there was a room upstairs…my writing room. My desk was set by a window which overlooked water and a lush green landscape with wildflowers…sigh. Not sure what it is about this house which has stuck with me for over two decades but it has.

What have you been wistful about?

Vibrant

The definition of the word vibrant at Merriam-Webster’s site is: pulsating with life, vigor, or activity.

When I think of someone who is vibrant, my mind’s eye sees someone who gives the impression of being lit from within. The funny thing is that I can’t even come up with an example off the top of my head. However, I have passed some unmistakably vibrant people on the sidewalk. These are the people who have that special spring in their step and they just seem to glow. Know what I’m talking about?

When they smile, it seems as though their entire being smiles…not just their mouth. This sort of person radiates positive energy which is contagious, for lack of a better word. While some might be resistant to it, most are swept up and find themselves smiling right back. What is the secret to vibrancy?

The one thing that I am sure of is that it’s something which comes from within. It isn’t something which we can find on the outside. Sure, there are things on the outside which can give us feelings of happiness and some of those things can leave us feeling happy for quite some time.

One thing which learning a bit about Buddhism has taught me is that external things are temporary. It doesn’t mean that we cannot or even should not enjoy them…because we can and should. However, we shouldn’t count on them being a permanent source of joy. Just as being present doesn’t mean the same thing as simply being there, vibrancy doesn’t mean that we are radiating a happy glow because we got the promotion at work or whatever the case may be. True vibrancy is a state of being…literally (not meaning 100% of the time…after all, we are human!). What do you think?

Underhanded

Snidely Whiplash
Anyone remember this guy from ‘Dudley Do-Right’ on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon? Snidely Whiplash was the epitome of underhandedness and even though I hadn’t seen this cartoon since I was a little girl, his image came to mind immediately when I thought of this post. He was the guy conniving and sneaking around to tie the damsel to the railroad tracks. Of course she was always rescued by Dudley, but it never stopped old Snidely from trying…only thing that did that was when the show ended. 
Underhanded people will pretty much do whatever it takes to try to achieve their goals. No matter if it’s lying, cheating, or sneaking…they’ll stop at nothing. These are usually the people who smile widely at you and act in an ingratiating manner. Later it is discovered that they were going behind your back, doing or saying something which could be damaging to you in some way to get something that they wanted. 
We’ve all known people like this and it is likely that we will meet at least a few more. While it might be tempting to lose our cool when we discover that someone’s been up to no good, it might take some of the sting out of it if we imagine them with a Snidely style mustache. Possibly we could even imagine them tied up with their own rope in true Dudley Do-Right fashion. Remember folks, I said imagine…not to actually do it…no matter how tempting!