An Understanding (written yesterday, July 24, when I was lying in bed wishing being sick was a fair fight)
Being sick sucks. My brain still functions but it’s confused. Writing emails, this post, it’s all taking far more time than is normal. The problem is, the thinking hasn’t stopped. The thought train keeps going only with more stops and mechanical difficulties. With a body that would really prefer not to be moved and protests in the most inventive ways if I do and a brain that still goes there is not much I can do to keep me occupied. Anything that requires being upright is out of the question. Yet I need to keep my brain occupied or the boredom will make everything worse. Emails and blog posts it is.
I don’t give a good first impression. I’m well aware of this fact. How can I not be after over a decade of being told by various people, mostly unsolicited, that, at first, they thought I was a bitch or intimidating. I find this fascinating given what I know about myself and the fact that I cannot figure out how I could possibly be intimidating at 5 feet tall. As I’ve gotten older, I understand more where people get these impressions. I still fight these impressions though. I fight them because I know myself. I am a difficult person; I don’t dispute this fact. Blunt, sarcastic, confident, contrary, and able to use words to wound are just a few of my more prominent qualities. There are other qualities within me though. I am loyal to a fault, physically demonstrative (yay hugs!), protective, idealistic, realistic, intelligent, honest, creative, caring, and sweet (in my own way.) It’s a package deal. The sarcasm is easier to take when it comes with bountiful hugs on the side?
Perhaps the word misunderstood could be applied to me. Is it possible that I am not misunderstood but simply not understood? It takes time to get to know anyone; how much time is highly dependent on the people involved. On first meeting, people know a lot about me. In many ways I am an open book. When I was younger I devoted an inordinate amount of time and energy to concealing my emotions and hiding what I thought and felt. Since the highlights of my childhood/teenage-hood center around effects that came about from an intense emotional life, the time and energy that I was using to conceal my emotions (largely unsuccessfully, I suspect) was entirely wasted and robbed time from more important endeavors, like the consumption of sweets and reading everything in sight (Something being nailed down wouldn’t have stopped me. If I could maneuver myself into a position where I could see it, I would read it. A skill I have retained and actually found a use for- I love yoga.) I have since decided to divert that wasted energy to appropriate activities like doing cartwheels in my living room. Thus, most everything I feel flows out to the world unmediated (It’s either that or I completely shut down. Both ways require less energy output than constantly consciously controlling [a delightful coincidental alliteration!] the flow of emotions.) A new person gets bombarded with information, much of which they didn’t want or need. As much information as I offer at first glance, there is an iceberg’s worth of information still hidden, guarded with a ferocity that, while overkill, provides me with a certain security. Life teaches integral lessons without regard for method. The girl who used to pull me around by my hair because I wouldn’t fight back provided one such lesson. What I learned from that prolonged experience was: fair fights are only fair if the opponents are on equal footing. I’m a small person and most everyone has some sort of physical advantage over me. This leads to two conclusions: avoiding conflicts is the best way to protect one’s self and if conflict is unavoidable, every advantage you can get, even so-called unfair ones, make it that much more likely for you to come out with the least amount of damage inflicted. I’ve never had to resort to putting into action the latter conclusion because I learned how to avoid situations that could lead to a conflict. I also honed the skills I had, namely an ability to put forth an articulate defense and using the help offered by others, to the point that conflicts can be resolved without physicality. Being brutally honest also helps. When people know how you feel up front, if they don’t like it they don’t bother hanging around long enough for a conflict to evolve.
So what about that first impression? It occurs to me that I cannot make people change the way they perceive me. I will simply make a request- whatever your first impression, of me or anyone, consider all that you might be missing by using it as your map. Think of it as if the new person is a new place. You have two options: you can be an eternal tourist, using a tourist map missing all of the subtle nuances of a place or you can use the map as a starting point and eventually draw your own and learn to integrate into, adjust to, and truly live in your adopted home (aka the person you just met.)