Y’all, I have had to unlearn some things. I picked all this up along the way as the gospel, the truth, the way it is, what’s right. I thought it was, and if I had not been open to new concepts or applied my own critical thinking, I would still believe these “truths”. Here goes…
- If I’m amazing, people are going to like me. Nope. I’m pretty amazing, and a lot of people don’t like me. You can be the juiciest peach in the Waterford Crystal bowl, and some people aren’t going to like peaches or fancy vessels for displaying fruit.
- If people dislike me, get mad at me, or insist that something is my fault, I need to change something about myself. Nope. If my behavior, attitude, or actions need adjustment, I’ll own that and work on it. Otherwise, if someone dislikes me, gets bent, or blames me for something, I don’t have to agree, change, or frankly, care.
- I need to help. Nope. I can help if I’m asked and only then if it is appropriate (according to MY standards) to provide assistance. People make bad choices and get themselves into some really crappy situations. Some people even thrive on drama and catastrophe. Inserting myself into somebody’s business in the interest of helping is generally a bad idea for 10,000 reasons.
- I’m the only one. Nope. Everybody’s life is a shit show from time to time, and if they tell you it isn’t, they lie and the truth is not in them. We all struggle.
- If I do things for people, they will like/love/appreciate me. Nope. First of all, people have very short memories. They won’t hold my precious good deeds in their hearts for long and will move on to the next thing fast. Second, some people are just takers. They will take from me as long as I’m willing to give. And lastly, somebody else’s fondness/love/appreciation for me should NEVER be based on what I can do for them.
- I should expect recognition when I do fantastic (or even mundane) things. Nope. I’m a People Pleaser, so I tend to think I am going to get a pat on the head when I do stuff. That is not a realistic expectation. Few people ever recognize (or even realize!) that I go out of my way for them to do big things. And I definitely should not expect applause because I washed and folded the laundry.
- I need to be available and responsive. Nope. Despite the culture that’s been created, I don’t have to reply to that text, open that Snap Chat, respond to that email, or answer that phone. I can “leave you on ‘READ'” if I damn well please without batting a fake eyelash.
- I need to always consider my kids’ feelings. Nope. Kids’ feelings are fleeting. They feel some kind of way about something all the time…and it changes hourly. Our culture has taught us to operate within the boundaries of how my kids feel, if they agree, if they’re comfortable. I’m still the parent, I know more than they do, and I can’t make decisions based on how my kids will feel. (If the situation warrants an assessment of how my kids feel, then I’m all over it. Day-to-day decision making, enforcing house rules, and parenting should not based on how my kids feel about it all.)
- I need to stay positive. Nope. I need to stay authentic and realistic. Life is hard. Really hard. I need to commit to having as much faith as I can, and I might…MIGHT…need to squash my cynicism and try to replace it with some optimism. But it’s okay to cry, scream, bitch, or get angry and call a bad idea, situation, or person exactly what it is…bad. I’m positive about that.
- I need to know how to do something before I try it, or at least be familiar with it. Nope. I can homeschool my kids not having any prior knowledge about Attila the Hun and his invasion of the Mongols. I can walk into that ballroom dancing class without any clue as to how to Foxtrot. I can start a blog having no previous blog expertise (like zero!). I can learn as I go. I can be brave enough to try something new. I can establish myself as an expert as I go.
I think it’s wildly important to learn life lessons and apply them. That demonstrates openness and adaptability and is evidenced by maturity and personal growth. But unlearning things? That requires self examination and challenging one’s own beliefs and ideas. It even calls for a re-evaluation of the world around you and insists that you question norms, values, and traditions. Maybe it comes from a stubborn desire to constantly improve and evolve. Maybe it comes with age. I’m not sure. But unlearning is helping turn my life around, and I’m here for it.