Saturday, October 31, 2015

Freaky Flaws

Clumsiness in action
This morning came too soon, too early. The kids all awoke simultaneously (Jaguar had sneaked into Fi and Lolly's room in the middle of the night and was cuddled with Fi on the top bunk) and stormed my bedroom en masse. Groggily I pulled myself out of bed, ushered everyone into Jaguar's room, and put Monster High on the TV for everyone, while I dozed in Jaguar's bed.

One of the characters - don't ask me names, I don't have a clue - was a half unicorn/ half zombie "hybrid" and apparently being a hybrid means having some "freaky flaws". His freaky flaw was clumsiness  - though he also had the redeeming powers of healing from his unicorn side - but another hybrid's freaky flaw was "interrupting a lot".

If only we could blame our poor manners and unattractive character traits on "freaky flaws"! Give it a shrug, say, "Eh, whaddya gonna do?" and move on. I definitely know a lot of people who feel that way. "This is me, jerk-face and all, so take it or leave it!" Sure there are some characteristics we have that truly are like-it-or-leave-it; for instance, I'm never going to be able to keep silent on issues that matter to me, and if I offend you, it's probably best to like-it-or-leave-it. (I also join the unicorn-zombie's Company of the Clumsy, and that's probably a freaky flaw I won't be able to fix.)  In Monster High world, clumsiness may be a flaw one can't control, but interrupting a lot could definitely be improved upon.

It reminds me of that book The Pout-Pout Fish. "I'm sorry but it's just the way I am. I'm a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face for spreading dreary-wearies all over the place." Guess what - it turns out that with a little attitude adjustment, he realized he wasn't destined to be glum!

So I started thinking about my freaky flaws (thanks, Monster High). I'll be very vulnerable and honest here; one of my least attractive internal traits is jealousy. I don't mean YOU-LOOKIN-AT-MY-MAN-BACK-OFF-BITCH!? kind of jealousy; oddly enough, I have somewhere around 0.05% jealousy in that area.  Ladies, look at my man all you want. Flirt even, it'll make him feel good. Then he'll bring all that positive energy home to me. He's not going anywhere!

No, my jealousy is sparked over various forms of competitiveness. Sometimes even, to borrow a good old-fashioned Biblical term, covetousness. One of the least attractive things inside me, that I rarely let anyone see, is the green-eyed monster lurking within that wants the success, talent, friends, and abilities that others have.

I feel like I'm pretty good at a lot of things. I feel I'm really good at a couple more. But I don't feel really expert at anything, and when I see others around me expertly carrying off those things I'm merely pretty good or really good at, the jealousy rises inside. I push it down, like nausea, but it's still there, turning me an unsightly shade of pistachio. 

I very much despise this automatic reflex. It's not a freaky flaw I can or could carelessly shrug off. It's something I really, really, really try to squelch. 

Like any negative emotion (or fear or attitude or prejudice or whatever kind of freaky flaw you have), the best way to squelch it is to face it and address it head on. I used to be severely arachnophobic my entire life. They say the best way to conquer a fear of those things - spiders, snakes - is to kill one. It worked out true for me. When faced with killing a spider rather than showing my fear to my kids and passing that fear on, I had to face my terror of spiders, my irrational fear that if I got close enough to one to kill it it would jump up on me and run up my leg, and just squash it. I put on tall boots, a pair of gloves, and with a shriek, I stepped on it. Slowly, with more kills and less protective wear, I've come to the place I'm at now, where I can somewhat peacefully coexist with spiders - unless they are really big. Then they still have to die, and Scott still has to be my protector.

My approach to jealousy is much the same. When I feel that envy surge in my breast, I try to turn it around in the form of a compliment or a congratulation or in a celebration of their achievements. Rather than wish I had what they have or could do what they do, I find it the most helpful to humble myself and simply give them the credit they deserve instead. Then take notes! What are they doing differently that I can learn from? What are their strategies for success? If they have natural advantages that I do not, how can I achieve something similar in my own way with my own unique advantages within my own unique situation and priorities?

The biggest area of jealousy for me right now is with writing. I love my book, and I'm proud of it. But I don't have a publisher to promote it for me, and I don't have the resources or the time to devote substantially to self-promotion. I feel jealous of my writer friends who are more successful marketers than me, who's books are selling well. Furthermore, I only have one book (two if you count my book of poetry, which I'm soon going to re-release as a paperback). I'm jealous of my writer friends who have a large catalog of books under their names. But I am in a specific peculiar stage of life, raising young children, working a new intense job, that doesn't allow me to write full time like one day I dream of doing. I have to make do with the resources and time I have. Where I can learn from others, I will. But as for the rest, I have to be settled with what I've got. And all the while, rather than allowing jealousy to be some helpless part of me, some kind of "freaky flaw" that just "is what it is", I must recognize it's futility and the negativity it brings to my life and be active in combating it, just as I must with all my internal flaws - prejudice, judgmentalness, perfectionism... oh, we can stop there!

(Now, if only I could do something about my clumsiness. The glassware in my home would thank me. Perhaps I should try balancing books on my head?)

What are your "freaky flaws" and what's your attitude towards them?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave your comments here.