How often do you feel misunderstood by others? Maybe you’re someone who is all, “I don’t care what people think” so, you don’t mind how you’re perceived. I’d like to think that I don’t care, but it’s just not true.
After reaching the level of self-awareness at which I now find myself, it seems that I have become more confident in expressing myself. I understand my motives, I know what I mean, I can explain why I have said or acted whichever way. The thing is, sometimes my intent isn’t clear to others, and they don’t ask for any explanation. This is typically a problem encountered only with those who don’t know me well. See, often times, acquaintances think they’ve got me figured out; and so, they assume my behavior to be something that it’s not. For example: when I was teaching preschool, it was brought to my attention that I am intimidating. To say that I was shocked by this sentiment would be an understatement. If ya’ll could only experience how tumultuous my thoughts are; how critically I examine my behavior and words, how sensitive I am to what I make others feel– the notion that the need to intimidate could influence my actions at all– it’s just so false.
I brought this up to my mom once, and she wasn’t surprised. She reminded me that people often relay that my dad is intimidating. Talk about being misunderstood– that guy has 40 more years of experiencing this than me. In the conversation that followed, my mom explained to me that mine and my father’s demeanor; our inclination to observe, to think thoroughly before we speak, to articulate concisely, to try and do everything perfectly– is sometimes received as arrogance.
I’m certain my mouth dropped when she said that. Arrogance would require confidence in social situations. It would also require the absence of fear of judgement or of being misunderstood. I want to make sure I’m saying this as clearly as possible because this is very important:
I fear judgment from misunderstanding. In an attempt to avoid this, I am very careful about what I say and do. However, what I am doing and saying gives others the impression that I am confident. Confidence morphs into arrogance, people are offset by the arrogance, and then don’t care for me– the whole thing I was trying to avoid.
My question, then, is what is most important? Understanding yourself or others understanding you? Should I change the way that I am for others? Or would that ultimately be a self-serving adjustment because I want more people to like me? If the answer is to just go about life with no regard to what others think, how do I stop caring? I’m not sure that it’s possible for me.
Guys, this is an issue to the point that I often count on my friends to translate my intentions to others. It’s like I speak a different language. It is who I am, it is who my dad is, and I accept this about myself. Honestly, I quite enjoy the quirk. So, if I’m happy with who I am, I shouldn’t change– right? But then, I continue being misunderstood. Gosh darn cyclical process of inner-conflict. Thank goodness it’s therapy Tuesday.
Ps. Sorry it took me two days to recover from St. Patricks day, and that I couldn’t write this post until today. Seems my body does not recuperate like it did in college…