The great thing about choosing a path of self-discovery is that you become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. As time goes by and you remain open you are prone to bursts of insight that illustrate how it is you’ve arrived where you are.
Lately I’ve written or thought about writing things that are controversial or just not things we’re comfortable talking about. I’ve thought about the risk. I don’t want to offend or embarrass anyone (and these ideas aren’t about specific people but rather topics and themes, so please don’t worry that I’m plotting to write about you). In ruminating on the risk, I’ve also remembered Stephen King’s writing advice about telling the truth. I want to take his advice, but I don’t want to bother anyone.
With all this on my mind, I had one of those light-bulb moments the other day. I identified that I have spent the majority of my life doing my best to stay out of people’s way, make sure they are comfortable, and be as low-maintenance as possible.
In high school I managed to accommodate everyone in my life. I rebelled just enough to have a good time with my friends, but not so much that I sent my parents over the deep end. I kept my grades up, always made it to class on time, turned in assignments, and followed the school rules. I’ve never been one to ask a lot of questions…who has time for my questions right? If I find myself in the middle of an offensive conversation, you might see me nod or laugh politely even if I’m inwardly seething. When I was dating, I was the girl who’d order the cheapest thing on the menu and eat all of it so as not to appear wasteful or inconsiderate. I take pride in my ability to be able to get ready for an evening out in 30 minutes or less. I also never (or very rarely) pamper myself with spa treatments or shopping sprees and when I do splurge on a retreat or workshop it is not without a little guilt. Somewhere along the way I must have decided that I wasn’t really deserving of people’s time, money, help, or consideration.
A couple of years ago I had gone to a party held by a friend. At the party I’d had more than a few drinks. Later on my friend conveyed the following observation about me that a fellow party guest had made (and I am paraphrasing).
“Leslee is always the same, easy going person. Whether she is happy, sad, mad, or drunk, she is always the same.”
At the time, I took it as a compliment. And I do think it was meant to be a compliment (otherwise my friend wouldn’t have passed it on). But now I think about that and realize it is just another way that I stay out of people’s way…by always being even-keeled.
Over the year and a half that I’ve been at this blog I have taken more risk than I ever have in my life. Some of my relationships have taken hits because of it. I’ve shared truths that people didn’t agree with or just didn’t want to hear. I’ve had moments of deep sadness because of those reactions. But I have grown tremendously too.
When I look at my life, I must admit that I will probably continue to be low-maintenance in a lot of areas. This “click” will not lead me to start scheduling massages and manicures or having public outbursts of emotion. But when it comes to my writing, I will apply the lesson I learned here. I will be honest and fearless, and it’s very likely that some people won’t like it. But it will be real and to quote Wayne Dyer “I would rather be loathed for who I am than loved for who I am not.”