Girls Interupted

We judge others by their behavior.  We judge ourselves by our intentions. 
-Ian Percy

Ever since taking that personality test I’ve been thinking about personal strengths and weaknesses, and have come to some interesting conclusions.

So...being a lady is a bad thing...
So...being a lady is a bad thing...

Recently I was talking to my dear friend Marie who has endured a hellish past two years, rife with all sorts of problems from the medical to the personal.  She’s doing much better now (from an outsider’s perspective at least) and last monday in particular the girl got empowered.  She got good and mad at her situation for the first time in a long time, got a bunch of people in line where they were slacking, and generally went about setting the world to rights.  She says this is out of character for her, and to a degree that’s true, but what really flummoxed me was that she said she was angry at herself for ever having been a “pushover” in her situation (incidentally, not a word that springs to my mind to describe this woman).  In fact, the thing that I’ve always admired most about Marie is her poise: the way she seemed to handle adversity with grace, gentleness, and quiet determination.  I never thought that what I saw as a real strength would be something she saw as a major life obstacle!

...and being an Ice Queen is...good?  HUH?
...and being an Ice Queen is...good? HUH?

But then I considered myself.  Quite a few people recently have told me that they admire my “assertiveness,” “strong will,” and “boldness,” but that aspect of my personality is always something I’ve had mixed feelings about.  I developed a rather aggressive, stand-offish (in some ways) personality to defend myself when no one else in my life seemed able to, to take care of myself when I was well and truly on my own.  I’ll be the first to admit that this forcefulness–not to say intractability– has literally saved my sanity a few times (plus getting a waiter’s attention in any restaurant in Europe would be impossible without it), but that I don’t necessarily like it.  Being bold and appearing confident can be useful, but it can also be abrasive (it earned me the nickname Ice Queen in high school: sometimes it was said with odd admiration, sometimes is wasn’t) .  But still people can like this aspect of me, this facet of my personality that I am sometimes grudgingly thankful for, sometimes outright dislike, but am always willing to use.

Maybe it isn’t too odd that what we see as our greatest weaknesses other see as our greatest strengths.  In the end, we’re probably both right.

8 thoughts on “Girls Interupted”

  1. I know what you mean. I have an easy going, nice guy personality. There are people who mistake nice for pushover. I am more than happy to dispel that notion for those that need it!

  2. Ice Queen, eh? How charming and yet so appropriate 🙂

    I will say, being a rather bold person myself I can certainly relate to your statements. I know I used to have an attitude of “Well, I can say what I want to say because I have no intention of hurting others so if they get offended it’s their own stinking fault”. But as time passed I realized this wasn’t really an appropriate way to approach things. We do have to be sensitive to others, but we don’t necessarily have to bend to others. Different people have differing sensitivities and we need to do our best to speak to the level of sensitivity that is first and foremost appropriate, but also (if possible) that an individual can endure.

    I think of the Prophet Jacob in the book that bears his name teaching the people about the wickedness of their ways. Unfortunately, he remarks, that he has to be far more bold than he would like, much to the displeasure of the wives and children because the men are so far removed. Thus an example of where appropriate level of sensitivity overrode what people could endure (especially since the wives and children were basically innocent bystanders).

    So really the answer I think is just to keep it classy and remember what your objective is in communicating with a person. Hopefully (and I know we all lose our cool on occasion) your goal is for their betterment when you speak to them. I think if this is the case, your degree of boldness will find itself more easily as will your tact. I think we all want to receive knowledge in self-improvement, but we also don’t want to be belittled or berated. It’s a fine line. Good luck!

    P.S. I fully endorse the “Smash it with a hammer!” approach as far as J. is concerned 🙂

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