As part of Project 137, one of our constant reminders to is to come at life, people, and the world-at-large from a place of love. And then assume that all others are doing the same…even the prickly ones. This is hard for a person like me who often takes life and all its moments quite personally, but I am trying and I think I’m even improving. Between P137 and my MOPS book club where we are reading the Power of a Positive Mom, and, let’s be honest, some better nights of sleep, I feel my overall attitude and approach lifting.
So imagine my surprise last night when I arrived on campus early to get ready to teach and a woman who works in my building greeted me, in the entryway, with a sarcastic and worried, “Well, you sure look ready for class. Are you OK for class tonight? Do you feel up to it? Are you sure?” Or something along those lines. I honestly can’t remember her exact words, but that was the gist of it and the gist is what bothered me.
As she started, I really thought the “You sure look” was going to end with a “ready for Fall” because I had on one of my favorite scarves. Or maybe a “sleek” or “great” or “nice” because I actually had time to straighten and do my hair yesterday. But no, no compliment came and instead I found myself trying to smile, laugh and then defend my overall attitude and demeanor to this person who is pretty much a stranger but felt compelled to ask me such personal questions. “Oh, yes. I’m great. Fully caffeinated, even!” was my response as I tried to just keep moving and get to my classroom so I could get away from her and shake off the whole thing.
This is the same woman who told me, “You look sad” one night last spring when my class was taking a ten minute break. Geez, Lady! Really?! I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by last night’s comment based on her previous track record, but why does anyone feel compelled to say such things?
And why does it bother me so much?
Well, last spring, it probably bothered me because it was true. Or at least partly true. I was sad. Or at least very, very tired and very, very stressed which probably equals sad in some way or another. I didn’t like that she could see that on my face because, like so many of us, I try to keep that stuff to myself (except for when I write, of course, and then it all comes pouring out).
Last night, it bothered me because I felt I had done nothing “wrong” or “negative”. I couldn’t understand why she would say this two seconds after I entered the building. Clearly she had watched me walk in from my car by myself, and no, I was not skipping or singing or laughing as I did so, but that makes me look like I’m not happy to be there? Not ready to face the world? In fact, I was pretty darn thrilled to be on campus so early because I had much to do and was grateful to have the time to do it. Plus, just sayin’… my hair looked awesome.
But here’s what I realized as I thought about the whole encounter: I am not a goofy-grinned-not-a-care-in-the-world kind of girl. I’m just not. And that’s OK. I am a happy person, even if I’m not slapstick about it. I am working on becoming a more positive one, too, which is why I’m going to assume that this woman’s misplaced questions come from a place of compassion, not ridicule. The seriousness that people might see in me does not make me broken. It is just a part of me that is lovely as the other parts. My serious side is a reflection of the dedication and purpose I feel in my life. It is part of my drive and my determination.
Last time I checked, those are good attributes to have.
Should I have to defend those attributes to her or you or myself? No. But apparently she’s bound and determined to keep pushing me on it, so I will have to keep thinking so I can respond to and approach her in a way that is kind, not reactive. I will also have to keep reminding my (sensitive) self that other people (and especially this woman) neither define me nor determine my outlook on the world. I do.
Even if I don’t go around clapping my hands, stomping my feet, or shouting “Hooray!” all the time, I’ve still got a heart full of love and hope for great things to come. And they do. Every day.
So take that, Miss You Sure Look! (OK – that’s neither kind nor nonreactive…see! I told you I needed to keep thinking about that!)