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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

To Change or Not to Change?

Change.  When used as a verb meaning, 'to substitute; exchange; alter; vary'.

As we reach the middle of our life we reflect on who we are, what we have achieved, and what is our plan for the remainder of our life.  Instinctively we assess whether or not we are conducting ourselves in a truthful manner.  We ponder whether or not the time we spend doing what we do is worth it.  We may find ourselves caught up in a corporate job, for instance, and realize 'this is not me!'  We may look at our home lives and say, 'if it weren't for the kids, would we still be together?'.  Or, we may just simply say, 'who am I?'.

I believe I reached my mid-life 'crisis' a few years ago; when I hit 40.  I began to speak up when I did not agree.  If the service at a restaurant or store was not up to par, for instance, I would let them know.  I believed it was my duty to use my voice to state the obvious in the hopes of effecting change.  Many times I filled out the Old Navy survey not only to get the additional 10% off on my next purchase but to let them know, in the additional comments section, that the clearance area (where I hover) was really too disorganized and messy.  I further offered that they may benefit from spending a little more time in making it presentable so that all of the clothes they wanted to get rid of would move more quickly, perhaps, if the shoppers could conveniently find their size.  When the waiter came over to see 'how is everything?' I would actually tell them the truth.  Imagine that!  At the same time, if I enjoyed a display or the waitress was especially attentive I would offer recognition for that as well.  I thought, "if I don't speak up, who will?".  I'm sure there are other people thinking the same as me but how many will muster up the courage to actually be honest and say it out loud?  This vocalization, I believe, is my duty.

As a thinking and feeling human being we have the right to be ourselves.  To conduct ourselves using our skills, talents, and brains is the gift we give to humanity.  Our uniqueness as individuals is what separates us from each other.  And, our similarities we share bring us together.

What happens when you conduct yourself the way you truly are and you are shunned as a result?  You wonder what is wrong with me that I alienate people?  How come folks can't handle the REAL me?  Why do I have to alter my behavior for people to accept me?  Why is it so bad to tell the truth and piss people off?  Why do I have to sit and contemplate if it is wrong to be who I am?

More importantly, do I need to change?

If I were to substitute what I truly am thinking and feeling with words that are more socially acceptable and conforming to society's standards so folks don't get their feelings hurt, am I really being true to myself?  Why do I have to smooth over the language to placate the receiver of the message?

For the past couple of years I've lived as a homebody, shut-in, a 'hikikimori' (the Japanese term for people who isolate themselves from society and live as a recluse).  A few times a week I venture out into the 'real' world and run my errands and get stuff done.  But, mostly, I am content with staying at home.  The reason is I've been burned.

There have been times over the past couple of years in which I've started new entrepreneurial ventures and gotten 'out' there.  When I stepped away from the corporate world back in 1995 it was under the guise of me concentrating on my family.  I told my boss, "it is not my job that loves me, it is my family who loves me".  And, I left a well-paying position to concentrate on raising my son and expanding my family.  The truth is, I was sickened by the back-stabbing politics of corporate life and refused to be a part of it any longer.  It was just a showcase of fakeness and lies.  I realized that the company didn't give a shit about the people and they were there just for the almighty dollar.  I gave up a lot back then.  I gave up my identity, my self-esteem.  I had achieved so much when I was working in the corporate world that that is where I built my self-esteem.  When I walked away from corporate life, I gave away a part of myself.  I've been trying to rebuild myself since.

Since then, I've made many attempts at being  self-employed; working for myself rather than 'the man'.  I've been a mortgage broker, got my real estate license, sold stuff on e-bay, and am currently an independent sales representative with AVON.  I went back a few times to a corporate setting, when I felt really desperate for money.  Honestly, I wanted to literally kill myself.  I was disgusted how the workers (drones) just fell in line with the monotony of the day and kept working and following orders.  It literally sickened me.

So, getting back to change.   I know that I could never go back to a 'real' job in the 'real' world.  I just can't see myself adapting to their culture and sitting with my hands folded saying, 'yes ma'am; no ma'am'.  The thought makes me puke.  I will not keep my mouth shut when I see room for improvement in a store that I happen to frequent.  If the soup is too cold; I will let them know, right away.  If a language arts teacher continues to misspell my son's name on e-mails to me, I will definitely call her out and bring her attention to her mistake.  If a 'friend' has pushed me to the limits and uses and abuses our 'friendship' I will let her know that 'I'm tapped out'.  If my brother's reaction to my insanity reminds me of my father I'll let him know.  I have no edit button left.

I have only so much time left on this earth.  Every day is a gift to me.  My gift to the world is me being myself and contributing my skills and talents.  If it doesn't come out politically correct then too bad.  If you can't handle the heat get out of my kitchen.  I'm me, damnit, and I'm not gonna change for you.  If you don't like the way I say stuff or act then that is YOUR problem.  If you walk away, it is your loss (or gain, depending on how you see it).  I'm just gonna be me because when I am me I feel like I am being true to myself.  I am raw, vulnerable, and real.  It is easy to put a mask on and hide your identity.  Taking is off is hard but it is freeing!

Let you be you.


  1. The important part of unmasking is liking what YOU see. At the end of the game, you are the one who has to decide did I play it admirably or do I wish I'd been someone else.

    I am proud of you, Pamela. The courage to be bold unapologetic for who you are is something few can muster. Keep bringing it'.


  2. Lisa, thanks again for reading and asking the questions.
    Hmm...not sure I always "like" myself but I don't want to be anyone else.
    Thanks for the encouragement. You've always been a great cheerleader (literally and figuratively).

  3. Pam - you probably don't realize it, but you have always been that strong, independent free-thinking woman to me. Even when we were kids I always admired how you would say what is ever on your mind. You haven't changed... you just reclaimed the way you used to be.

  4. Wow, Carolyn, that is probably the greatest compliment I've received!
    Thank you so much for spending the time cheering me on my reclamation journey.