One of the 40 questions in the year-in-review meme asks whether you consider yourself older or wiser than in the previous year. As with pretty much every one of the questions, (I overthink everything and so) my answer flipflops between the two options. When my so-called ailments are acting up or I recognize that I’m reminiscing yet again about the so-called good old days, I definitely lean toward older.
Still, overall, I would answer “wiser”… I know, it surprised me, too! Sure, there are areas – oh, lots and lots of areas – where I just don’t seem to get it. And, in my opinion, most people just don’t seem to get me. Plus, lately I have Bad Brain Weeks (TM) with an alarming frequency. Despite all of that, I do think I’ve gained some proverbial ground, which I’m daring to call wisdom.
Arguably, the most important advance this year is having realized I finally feel as if I’ve found my voice. Since high school, one of my most frequent sources of frustration has been the perspective that no one is listening to me, so this is huge! A big part of my feeling heard has been being able to ponder, protest, and pour my heart out to my dear friend Michele, since waaaaay back in 2001. She not only listens but is also in many of the same boats I am, so her attentiveness is doubly appreciated.
I also attribute this feeling of finding my voice to all these years of running websites. Nothing fancy or earth-shattering. Simply writing my thoughts and making them available is, as writers know, cathartic. As I say on one site, “Even if no one reads every word, just knowing that they could makes me feel as if I’ve been heard.” Adding to that, the bits of feedback I’ve received – mentions in books about the fandoms, comments from site visitors, repeatedly making it onto the first page of Google search results – have been invaluable. People *have* noticed my efforts. My words. Me!
I’ve even come to see that my family does listen to me, even if it’s not always like I would prefer.
Another gain is that I have developed a strong sense of self. Actually, I’ve had that for several years now, basically accepting who I am. It’s like in that saying, “First, we worry about what others think of us. Then, we don’t care what they think of us. Finally, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” I am solidly – okay, usually – in the don’t-care-what-they-think category. No, I don’t aim to antagonize people by throwing our differences in their faces. (I remain one who hates to argue. I mean, what a pointless waste of time!) My default mode is to try to be a nice, likeable… albeit introverted… person because, sure, I would rather people like me.
Unfortunately, lately, I find myself around people who want to lift themselves up by putting others down. Surely you know the type: they heckle you by pointing out your quirks, or mock your mis-speaks in a desperate attempt to make themselves look smarter. I confess, I can be as quirky a person as you’ll meet on any given day, and so a nitpicker-type will have no shortage of material to try to use against me. Ah, but my sense of self triumphs more and more: the disapproval of such a person means nothing to me. Which is good because it occurs to me that if you start changing to please them, they’ll just find something else about you to hate on. And I equate their efforts to impose their own standards to the playground challenge of declaring that “last one there is a rotten egg!” When you’re a kid, you play along with such dares, because heaven forbid you be labeled a rotten egg. But as an adult, you reject that. “Why? Because you say so? Whatever!” Not to mention that I’ll now take my goofiness over their condescension any day of the week.
So, yay! I have one question answered. Thirty-nine to go. At this rate, it’s good that I started early!