I realized yesterday what my lesson in life is, or at least my lesson to be learned from FLOW. It's not how to work hard, to manage pressure, to stretch myself in ways I had never thought possible. It's not how do let go of insecurities, to put myself out in the world, hawking and spinning and selling to get people to pay attention. It's not how to grow into myself, to own who I am and what I do, to stop hiding behind myself.
It's to learn how to deal with closed people. To be more specific, people who are closed to me. Which, for me is punishment. Once, a fellow co-op board member said I should rethink my life and be a cruise director, as I have this obvious need to be liked. She meant that as an insult. But I didn't take it as one. I ask questions and want to hear answers. I engage whenever possible, say hello, good morning, thank you. I treat people with respect and kindness. Those are two major words in my life. So often, people don't bother to regard either with either these days. It's astounding how many bus doors slam in faces, how many transactions take place without acknowledgement, on either end, how often people walk past each other as if no one was there. While being polite isn't part of a need to be liked, I suppose it's part of a greater whole.
And yet, in spite of manners, respect, basic kindness towards others, people—wait, let me clarify that, women—pass through my life who don't like me. Actually, who can't stand me in varying degrees. Looking back, and in the present, it most often happens when I put new ideas into the world that others don't agree with. Or don't bother listening to. I suppose, in my defense and also, to accept responsibility, I'm not great at strongly putting things out there. If someone doesn't like what I'm doing or have to say, I can take it as a personal insult, and it becomes about me, not the idea, and I shut down. I don't have harshly defined lines. What I think/do/say is what is. Whether it's work, for the PTA, a book project, with friends, this is me. Creative, sensitive, open. It all meshes together. And I can get stuck on being right. Egotistically speaking, I often am. But not everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. Not everyone's open to change. Not everyone wants someone else's ideas in the forefront.
I'm here again. Amazing news today coupled with accusations and drama. So, what do I do? My feelings get crushed in these situations. When someone, anyone, doesn't accept what I put out there, I fold. And I put good stuff out there. My ideas resonate, have passion, conviction. I work so hard on what I share. I don't take anything I take on lightly. And still, in spite of professionalism, dedication, strong, solid, occasionally visionary ideas, there are women out there who just want me to shut up. I've literally been told to shut up. Instead of being able to see that these are their issues, that I need to be who I am and let it slide, I take it in until it eats away at my self-esteem, my confidence. I'm finding myself back here, again, so wrapped and wracked I can't see straight.
I know this is my lesson. To stand up for myself, not necessarily to get my way, but to nurture my soul, protect my feelings, even if I don't say so on the outside, to love and heal on the inside. To accept other people's closed minds, not as something directed at me, but just as who they are. I say this hoping beyond hope I can actually do it. Because I can't live through another finger-pointing, back-stabbing, accusation filled experience.
To accept that while many love me, and for that I am exceedingly grateful, there are those who don't get me, can't stand me, truly, actively dislike me. And I can't change that. Or them.