A coworker, slightly drunk, asked me this as I was answering another coworker while we were out for drinks at a bar last week. Followed sharply by, "you're so quiet! In everything you do!" [she had commented on my quiet typing at work the day before]. Instead of an observation, it was presented as an insult...a flaw. Wha?
Hmmm. Honestly, it made me realize how much I've heard that over the years. And also how much I dislike it.
You know why?
Because I don't want to be defined.
I had an epiphany a few weeks ago that I can refuse to be defined. All of my life I've been known as the "good girl", the "quiet one", the "observer". Although I do have some of the qualities that make up those definitions, they are not the sum of who I am. Those phrases limit me to other people, because when you say I'm a "good girl" everyone has an idea of what that means to them. It usually tends to mean that I've never heard a curse word in my life, and I don't know what pain is, and I've never done anything bad. The "quiet one" or "observer" can mean that I don't know how to interact in a group, I keep to myself with a very limited social life, and I'm shy, passive, and afraid.
I can be quiet, analytical, observant, practical and kind, and I can also be loud, random, funny, spontaneous and impulsive. Just ask my close friends. Why limit someone? Why limit yourself?
I just want to BE...and not have it traced back to any kind of persona. So, I'm learning what it looks like day by day to release the definitions that have stuck to me over the years; the definitions that I've been limited by, and have grown out of. Once you stop limiting yourself to these interpretations given to you by others, comments that seem to attack personal qualities tend to showcase the insecurities of the person making them.
Own the core of who you believe yourself to be, and take the input of close friends and use it for growth. But never let other people define you. This is a lesson I have to teach myself daily.
Thanks for reading, friends.