The words that matter

Country.

That’s the word someone used to describe me lately.

Not because I live in Georgia or because I have a drawl that people outside of our region probably have a difficult time understanding.

But I was called country because I have a love and compassion for animals, even the undomesticated kind.

I laughed it off and even though I am pretty sure the person meant it as an insult, didn’t take it that way.

My child on the other hand was not very happy when he heard the news and expressed his opinion in a way that proved he is indeed a descendant of my family tree.

Mama didn’t like the term either, but she may have been triggered by the memory of me being previously called derogatory terms by the ex-husband.

“I don’t like that you were called that,” Cole said.

I shrugged. “It was nothing.”

I had only mentioned it in conversation because it was part of the story I was relaying.

“But what did they mean by calling you that? It just seems like they were meaning something a lot worse.”

I imagine they were using the term as a softer alternative to redneck or hillbilly, the two phrases my ex-husband used to describe my family because, except for Mama, they all had blue-collar or labor jobs.

Some of my family members worked construction, or were truck drivers, and farmers. To the ex, hard-working people were rednecks.

Being called ‘country’ was meant to insult me, but it didn’t. Like Granny, I have no fancy pretenses about myself and could care less about trying to act like I am something I am not.

I am not that comfortable in a big city. Traffic gives me anxiety attacks and I don’t like being in an environment full of strangers.

So, maybe being called country is an apt description.

“I still don’t like it; it was meant to hurt your feelings,” Cole said.
I appreciated his concern and told him so, but I had to let him know there was an important lesson here.

“It didn’t hurt my feelings and I wasn’t insulted,” I began. “See, for it to hurt me, I would have to care about the opinion of the person who said it. And I didn’t. Words can only hurt us when we believe them.”

“You always tell me words matter,” Cole reminded me.

True. They do.

And in this case, the word was being used in an attempt to make someone feel bad or inferior.

We have gotten to where we use words like “country” to label people, to point out a difference and maybe separate us in the process.

Our words and language are supposed to bring us together and build us up, not try to tear us down and apart.

But it sure doesn’t feel that way lately.

It seemed like everyone was trying to get a little dig in, any way they could. We have focused on the things that keep us divided and make us scatter instead of what can unite us.

People have forgotten that no matter where we are from, and no matter the differences, we still belong to one another.

“So, you don’t care at all that person thinks you are country?”

I really don’t.

“But why doesn’t it bother you?” my child asked.

“What someone thinks about me is none of my business,” I said. “That’s their opinion of me and their opinion is not fact or my character.”

“But what if their opinion of you is wrong?”

“Doesn’t matter,” I said.

That person didn’t really know me, only what they thought they knew.

“Did what they say about you make you think differently about them?” Cole asked.

“No,” I said. “I already had my opinion about them. Their comment just reinforced it.”

“What did you think of them?” he asked.

It didn’t matter. Just like they were way off base with me, my opinion was just that and I may be wrong.

“I can think of a few names I would like to call that person,” Cole admitted.
I could understand that and told him so but reminded him that just served to drag us down to their level.

Even though it may feel good, it still only served to put a bigger wedge between us.

“There’s enough name calling already,” I said. “Instead of thinking of how to hurt someone, we need to just say things that can help us find a common ground, and not declare a word war.”

So, I was called country. It was not a total lie. It wasn’t a total truth, either.

The word didn’t matter; neither did the opinion by the person who said it.

What was important, was that I was reminded of how our words can either unite us or divide, and it matters how we decide to use them.

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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/