A strong-willed woman

I have learned something recently.

Being a strong-willed woman is a bit of a blessing and a curse.

I can’t help how I am, I can’t.

It’s in my blood to be strong-willed or stubborn.

Upfront and unflinching.

Some people call it a few other names.

But it is something I can’t help.

Passivity is not something I do well, nor am I weak or subservient.

Having the opposite characteristics of these traits is not always welcomed in the company of some.

Again, it can get you called some pretty ugly names if you are a woman – behind your back and even sometimes to your face.

When a man stands up for himself or states his opinion passionately, he is called an alpha male; a woman, it seems, is supposed to smile and nod and keep her thoughts to herself lest she come across as negative.

A man complaining is a simply voicing what needs to be done; a woman is whining and bitter, even if she is making valid points.

Some people may appreciate this dynamism.

But it’s not a personality for everyone.

“You must have had a mouthy mother raising you,” someone said in an accusatory tone one day.

“Nope,” I replied. “Mama is very gentle and kind; she just doesn’t take any guff off anyone.”

No, the crazy redhead can’t be blamed for the way I am. Nor can the elder redhead.

Those two gave me examples but they aren’t the cause.

I’d likely place the blame on my grandfather and uncle, with them encouraging me to speak my mind and defend my position when necessary.

Both never had a problem with Granny being stubborn and strong-willed; if anything, my Pop seemed to encourage it.

“Chicken,” he would begin, calling her by his pet name for her. “You need to deal with these folks. They ain’t listening to me.”

I couldn’t imagine someone not listening to my grandfather. He could be quite imposing himself. But Granny had a way of stating her purpose that made people take notice.

Being tenacious and unshakeable are just not traits that are considered feminine.

But whenever something happened when I was younger, it would be my grandfather telling me to stand my ground.

“Don’t you let someone run over you,” he would tell me. “I taught you better than that.”

When I got older, and started working, I found that could be problematic in the workforce.

Some people want you to ignore any problems that exist and not make waves or changes, even if they are for the better.

I quickly grew frustrated with some of the things that were occurring and said so.

Big mistake. Huge.

My words were not welcomed.

“They don’t want things to get better,” I told Mama. “They just want things to be the same and us just suck it up and deal with it.”

“That’s life,” she replied. “Stand up for what you can, for what is worth the fight, and let the rest go.”

But I couldn’t.

I would get upset and voice my complaints and concerns. I would fight for the underdog.

I would be as pigheaded and determined as my grandfather could be until I would reach a breaking point and quit.

“That’s why your granddaddy has been self-employed most of his life,” Granny said. “He can’t stand people telling him to do foolish things.”

I could see his point.

But foolishness was rampant it seemed.

There have been a few places that embraced my strong-willed expressions and allowed me to be myself. Even if it was just a matter of letting me just be able to speak my peace.

Finding a way to express myself in a way that does not come across as strident or unyielding is something I have been trying to work on but doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, I am not able to find that balance.

But why should I have to?

Why is so wrong for me to be strong-willed? Or stubborn?

Or maybe even a little bit of a mess at times?

Is that really such a bad thing?

Maybe it would be easier if I was just more ladylike and quieter. Maybe I should keep my opinions to myself and not try to stand up for things as much.

Or maybe I will try to take the bite out of my tone.

I have tried in the past.

I don’t know that it is really possible.

Nor that I really want to change.

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The judgment of small talk

Being an introvert makes social situations a little challenging at times.

Even when it is with people I like or want to know better, I find gatherings quite hard to deal with.

It’s not that I hate people, mind you. Even though I do prefer the company of animals to most humans, that is not it.

No, it’s the small talk that does me in.

I loathe small talk.

I can talk at length about things that range from random trivia to deeper subjects but the tedious ‘getting to know you’ questions and chatter drive me batty.

Mainly because the mundane conversation can be used to judge and people have sorely forgotten how to be polite and inquiring without belly flopping right into someone’s personal life.

“Are you married? Do you have kids?”

If you answer no to either question, you can bet the next question is “Why not?”

People sometimes forget one is not necessarily a precursor to the other, which can make for some uncomfortable exchanges.

But perhaps the most annoying one is, “What do you do?”

Such a simple question really.

But one that is very loaded.

Depending on your answer, people are going to decide how to treat you.

If you say you are a doctor or other professional, people will treat you with respect.

If you say you have a blue collar job, their reaction may be a little different.

It’s wrong, but it is something I have witnessed far too often.

I was raised to treat everyone equally, and to not let their job title dictate the level of respect they received.

Yet, that one simple question carries a tremendous amount of weight to it.

Many times, people feel like titles and what they do for a living defines them, and sometimes, it can.

We do tend to get caught up in our jobs and worry about the image we are projecting into the world.

I have met a few people who let you know with every breathe what they did for a living and how important they were.

And, I have known folks who were humble and down to earth that did not need any kind of recognition for their positions.

In parts of Europe, it is considered rude to ask someone what kind of work they did. It is a matter of pre-judging someone.

Deciding if the person was worth getting to know. Evaluating if the person’s net income would put them on equal footing with us.

And trying to size up if the person can be valuable to us in any way.

I hate this question and it’s kind of hard to avoid it when you are in most social situations.

“I don’t care what someone does for a living,” I told Mama one day. “I don’t care what their level of education is or if they have a big, important job. And if their opinion of me is only based on how I earn a living, they can stick it.”

Mama gently agreed. “Well, Kitten, you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat their wait staff in a restaurant. If they are rude to them, they will be rude to others, too. You weren’t raised to be that way so it is a bit hard for you to understand.”

It reminds me of how someone I knew once whined she was ashamed of her fiancé’s job and didn’t know if she could marry someone who “wore his name on his shirt.”

“Lots of people have their names on their uniforms,” I tried telling her.

“Like who?” she sniffed.
“Doctors, for one. Cops have name badges, too. There is nothing wrong with wearing your name on your uniform.”

She never saw my point, but I am sure she is the type that uses the small talk question of “what do you do” to decide if someone was worthy of her or not.

The good thing about small talk is people usually aren’t listening; they are waiting to respond with more stuff about themselves.

“What do you do for a living?” someone asked me recently.

“Whatever it takes,” I replied.

Thankfully, they didn’t even notice.

 

 

I am my Mama’s mother’s granddaughter (5/11/2016)

I swore when I was a child – probably more a teenager, really, as they know everything – that I would never be like my Mama.

No, that skinny fire-breathing redhead was crazy.

She thought the silliest things were life-hazards, when riding in a Monte Carlo with her smoking and the windows rolled up was probably more hazardous to my health than me roller skating.

She was strict. More specifically, “controlling” was the word I used from age 15-23.

I thought her sole purpose was to make me a completely uncool spinster.

“Your mama is so nice,” my friends would say.

They would come over to talk to Mama about things they didn’t feel comfortable talking to their own mamas about.

This is the woman who would randomly show up at school in the middle of the day to peek in my class to make sure I was okay.

The woman who would point at me, then the floor, commanding me to come there so she could ask me if I had lunch money or not.

And my friends came over to ‘chill with my mom?’

“Why do my friends come over here and talk to you?” I asked her once bewildered.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Is it so hard to imagine that I am maybe a nice person and they want to talk to me?”

What in the world did this woman possibly have to talk about?

Other than her heedings and warnings about everything being dangerous, including air, she didn’t have a lot to say.

“What do you say to them?” I asked.

Mama shrugged again. “Nothing really.”

I approached Granny with this dilemma.

“You wanna know why your friends come over here to talk to your Mama? It’s because she’s quiet. She actually listens to them,” the old gal said.

“She does what?”

“She listens.”

I reckon Mama has always done that. She is quite the good listener, especially if she is not injecting her listening with her words of warning.

“So my friends come over here because she listens? Don’t I listen?”

Granny shook her head.

“No, you too busy telling everyone what your opinion is like they care. They don’t want to know what you think of their boyfriends. Knowing you, you’ve already said it. They want someone that’ll listen to them and let them figure it out on their own.”

The old gal evidently missed the irony of her statement.

She spent a goodly portion of her time expressing her unrequested opinion on everyone along with her judgements. If Granny disagreed with what someone was doing, instead of trying to be a compassionate person as Mama does, she told them what she thought, holding nothing back.

And Mama was quiet. I think some folks may have thought she was aloof but she was really just more reserved and observant.

Granny, on the other hand, would not shut up.
“I’m shy and don’t feel comfortable talking to a bunch of strangers,” she said – an outright lie—out of the blue one day.

“I bet the greeter at Walmart wished that were true; you spent 15 minutes the other day discussing your hysterectomy with them.”

“They asked how I was, and I told them,” was her response.

Granny believing she was shy was almost comical. A bull in a China shop that had been poked with a fire was more subtle than this woman.

And she didn’t feel comfortable talking to strangers? She never met a stranger. She would go up and start talking to someone like she had known them for years.

I think when she worked in a sewing plant, she talked so much they had to move her away from one of her best friends. That didn’t work; she just started talking to whoever they moved her next to.

Mama was the quiet, compassionate empathizer and then there was Granny, the chatterbox full of judgements she felt needed to be shared.

Oh, sweet son of a biscuit eater.

I’m not like my Mama at all.

It’s worse. Much, much worse.

queue here

Meltdown in the checkout lane (3/4/2015)

I sometimes think people have lost all sense of boundaries and personal decorum.

I’m not talking about selfies and technology driven issues, either.

I’m talking about when folks are in stores. Rudeness has become the standard on aisle four and in the deli.

I am not even talking about how people like to stop and hold conferences in the aisles at the store.

Or how they will bump into you with their buggy as they pass, with half an aisle to spare.

I am talking about when I am trying to unload my buggy and the person behind me feels like it will somehow speed up the process by tossing their stuff up there before I am finished.

Or they get really, really close to me. As in hover so close to me that I have to say, “Excuse me,” when I bump them to get my wallet out of my purse.

It makes me feel claustrophobic and nervous.

As an introvert, I feel very uncomfortable with a stranger having such close proximity to me.

As a human being, I also feel like it is the height of rudeness.

But people -most people, anyway-seem to have lost all sense of personal boundaries and proper public behavior.

Sadly, I was less shocked by seeing a girl walk in wearing a bikini once than I was by the man behind me that just saddled on up beside me to buy his pack of Marlboros while I was still handing my coupons to the cashier.

I shot the guy a sideways glance as if to say, “Back up, buddy,” but he didn’t seem to notice.

Another time, as I was in line, a man just appeared from nowhere and proceeded to cut in front of me in line. I actually called him out on it.

“You go ahead,” I said. “Whatever you are doing is evidently so much more important than what I have to do.”

It was urgent, after all, he had to load his card so he could save 10 cents on gas.

I get so frustrated and upset, I have gotten to the point I hate shopping of any kind.

Cole tries to be my buffer, but he is just a child.

In Aldi once, a man started placing his items up on the checkout belt while I was unloading.

The look on my face must have been horrific – I wanted to say something snarky and rude but my raisin’ wouldn’t allow it.

Evidently, my generation was the last to believe in having any kind of decorum.

Cole turned around until he made eye contact with the man’s wife, who tried to stop the man.

“I think that lady is still putting her stuff up there, honey,” she said.

He tossed a box of rice on the belt.

Cole grabbed it and handed it to the wife who finally made her husband realize he was tossing his items up there with mine.

When Cole turned back to me, he said my face was as red a pepper.

“I got this, Mama,” he said. “I won’t let them make you have a meltdown.”

Why can’t people take two seconds and realize they are not the only ones in the world and see how rude they are being.

If they aren’t all up on my backside, they are cutting in front of me. Cole wanted a sub sandwich at the deli one day. I had stood in line behind two people for about 15 minutes, when some rude lady approached and cut in front of me as the folks ahead of me moved away with their order.

Personally, I think the deli person should have known the lady was not next – I was – because I had been standing there so long.

Maybe I was wearing my cloak of invisibility that day. Or putting on a good imitation of a statue.

“Sometimes, I swear, I hate people,” I mumbled getting in the car.

Lamar didn’t say anything, because he knows I can turn on him like a feral cat if he says the wrong thing.

“You need to be my buffer,” I told him.

“You’re what?”

“My human buffer. You need to go in stores with me from now on – none of this sitting out here, napping. You need to go in there and make sure no one gets all up on me in the checkout and maybe help me run interference so people won’t cut in front of me.”

Lamar didn’t say a word -again, I can go feral cat.

“Maybe you need to speak up,” was Mama’s suggestion.

But in a world of road rage, it can be scary.

Even scarier, I am the type that takes and takes and takes and when I reach my limit, I am the scary one. I don’t want to do that. I would probably be escorted by police officers out of the store. Maybe wearing handcuffs.

After visiting Mama the other day, we stopped in Barnes & Noble.

As we went to checkout, I noticed the sign that said: “Please wait here until called by the next cashier.” What a lovely idea, I thought. A queue to give boundaries and parameters.

Some banks have the queue and even the ones that don’t, people have some cognizance it is not acceptable to get all up on someone while they are taking care of business.

Banks and bookstores apparently have a higher level of decorum, keeping the sales transaction sacred, away from rude, overzealous people.

Why can’t all the other stores have those signs or the little metal rails to get through?

But they don’t.

The rest of the world has just lost any and all civilization it once had.

And it all started at the grocery store.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16149/

introvert care sheet

Introverts of the world – unite! (1/28/15)

If you had asked me 25 years ago if I was an extravert or an introvert, I would have whole-heartedly responded with the former.

I was considered outgoing and it seemed like I was always at a church party or a big get together.

I loved some aspects of it, but if I was honest, I hated it.

I hated the fake small talk, I hated being in a crowded place, and I hated the feeling of panic and being emotionally drained when it was over.

I thought introverts were rude hermits who hated mankind. Surely they weren’t just everyday people who were kind of friendly and liked puppies and stuff.

I thought I just had an uncategorized panic disorder – I was self-diagnosing myself long before WebMD was born, having a minor in psychology will do that for you. But one night in the mall with Mama, being surrounded with hordes of people, made me nearly black out. I sat on a bench and watched people go by, laughing, talking and enjoying their visit to the greatest place on earth. My ears were reverberating, and my heart was pounding. All I could think of was how I wanted to get out of there.

I still am not sure if that was a panic attack or just me realizing I didn’t feel comfortable in crowds.

Slowly, I began to realize that even when I liked the people or the places I was going, I didn’t like the crowds.

Being in the crowds made me feel like I was inside a drum while someone beat a tempo on the outside. All I could think of was wanting to be home, free of small talk.

Even when I worked in cosmetics, I thought I was outgoing and extraverted. Maybe it was because I became friends with so many of my customers and treated them all as guests, or if it was just so much fun – hello, I was paid to sell makeup and just about every week, with new stuff being delivered constantly.

I was in sales for a number of years and surprisingly, did OK. I actually enjoyed working with clients one on one, helping them with their advertising, and enjoyed the freedom that went with the job. It was so personal and rewarding. I was fine until we had to do a remote; the crowds of people swarming the booth made me panic so horribly I thought I would flee.

The thought still remained that I just had panic attacks. It never occurred to me that I was an introvert.

Then, low and behold, one day I had to take an actual test that discovered your personality traits. This was a real psychological test, not one of those Facebook quizzes that makes pithy diagnoses based on your color preference and the last thing you ate. This was a real psychological test. My result came back: Introvert.

I was surprised but somehow relieved.

Introverts feel overwhelmed in large crowds, hate noisy places, despise small talk (I will sit and talk about the big things at length, but the ‘hey, how’s the weather, how’s it going…” No. Just no.), feels drained after being in a crowd, and hates to talk on the phone. I have a few people I will talk to on the phone, and then, it needs to be a real conversation. Just the phone calls to just gossip or talk nonsense, I can’t handle.

Apparently, there are a lot of us out there.

I found more and more information about introverts and the more I found, the more it resonated with me and the way I had felt pretty much my whole life.
Mama still disagrees and says I am extraverted. I tell her no, I am not. I can appreciate her reasoning, because again, I would have considered myself an extravert before.

But being an introvert does not mean I hate the rest of the world; I am kind of a hermit though. I prefer my cabin in the woods, and prefer small, as in tiny, groups of people, and my dogs. That doesn’t mean I won’t smile at another person in the grocery store. And I will smile even broader if they smile back. It just means that I don’t have to invite them and their closest friends over for dinner.

“I still don’t think you are an introvert,” Mama said. It doesn’t matter if she thinks it or not; I am. It’s a label that finally ‘fits.’

After throwing off my former extravert label, I found out a lot of others I knew were introverts as well – people I liked, admired and would have never guessed were introverts.

“Maybe we need to have some kind of support group, for introverts disguised as extraverts,” one suggested via email one night. “But introverts don’t like leaving our homes.”

I agreed; I liked my side of the mountain.

“A support group without the meeting,” I answered.

We haven’t done it, but we kind of need to. It’s hard being an introvert in an extraverted world, and we really need to stick together.

Well, as much as a bunch of introverts would anyway. introverts

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16016/