Strategic, relentless, and thrifty

Where do we learn the behaviors that make up who we are? For some reason I was retrospective today. Thinking about my childhood, my teens, college, and my early professional career. At each stage I was a different person and I am still growing into who that is today.

As a kid I was definitely strategic (even if I did not know it at the time). I would find a way to con candy out of the old ladies at church (maybe I would not have resorted to it if it was given a little more freely at home). I learned early on that my sister would get sick on rides at the county fair, so if I asked to go on the spinning ones first I could potentially get the rest of her ride tickets. I was often quiet in the presence of my father when I knew he was in a bad mood, I did not dare piss him off. And I was fun and playful. I liked to be silly.

Somehow as I grew into being a teenager, I grew quieter and more introverted. I had seen too much in my life. Death, anger, poverty, sickness, desertion. As I look back at my senior year of high school, I feel a sadness. I barely made it through to graduation. I was lost and sad, but did not really know it at the time. On the outside I probably looked fairly normal. I was social, had friends, was a cheerleader, but my sadness came from not really having a home or parents to ground my day-to-day life. My last three years of high school were spent at a boarding school, so living away from home (that did not exist) sans parents was strange and so different from my classmates and friends. There was no one I could really relate to.

In college, I eventually found my way and I found my voice. That voice evolved into my professional life and experiences. I began to speak up for what I believed in without fear and decided that I had something to say and did not care what others thought of me.

Throughout it all I have been strategic, relentless, and thrifty. When I decide I want something I figure out how I am going to get it. I had to be that way. No one was taking care of me through high school or college so I learned early on to depend on no one but myself. While I now have people I depend on in my life, there is still always a thread that floats in the back of my mind. Will they drop the ball and I will have to pick it up? Will they follow through with what they said they will do? Each stage of my life has evolved into who I am today. Strategic, sometimes introverted, sometimes extroverted, intuitive, blunt, thrifty, and relentless. I have to trust you, and when I do the rest is history.

Staying True to Yourself

Fitting in or not. It is a fact of life. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. What matters most is what we do when that happens. Do we try to change ourselves to fit in, or do we stay true to ourselves and not let who we are go even if it means not fitting in?

You would think that it only happens in school. Right? No, it is part of the world we live in, whether we are in school, at work, with friends, and sometimes even in our families. I definitely struggled at different points in school with fitting in. First, there is the question, do I even like the “cool” kids? Do I want to hang out with them, or are they annoying, mean, you fill in the blank. If there is a desire to hang with those so-called unattainable kids, then maybe you want to solve the magic 8 ball to find out how you can hang with them. You might find though that it is not always what it is cracked up to be.

It happens from toddlers to an old folks home, fitting in is just a fact of life. We all create tribes and cliques. We all have preferences and choices of who joins us. Yet, through it all, the most genuine way to fit in is to be yourself. I can remember countless times in my life when I never really felt I fit in. When I was younger and my mom was sick, my life was different, and it made it hard to relate to my peers. In high school when my mom died, I was back at boarding school within a week, and it made it hard to process and who I wanted in my life at that time.

Eventually something happens in your life and you learn that you just have to stick to who you are, regardless of whether others do not like you for who that is. It was in college when I finally said: “I don’t give a shit what others think. I am going to be me, and if others like that person, great, and if they don’t that is fine too.” We just have to stay true to ourselves, and let the rest happen. Otherwise if we divert from ourselves, it will take us that much longer to find our way home.