Change is hard. I didn’t realize that by accepting a new job with a new company and a new boss, that I would have to learn so much about myself. Today, I discovered another one of my weaknesses. I believe that, as a child, I prided myself on being the smartest one in the class. It became an identity of mine, and as I progressed through school and social scrutiny, it was one of the things that made me “OK” as a person. My family did not have money or nice things, but at least I could get a better grade than you on a test, or do a math flashcard faster than you, so I was going to BE somebody.
So I realize that I feel extremely unsettled when I feel my intelligence is brought into question. It doesn’t even have to be your intention, but if I feel like you’ve underestimated my intelligence, I take it very personally. If I think you think I’m stupid, I feel almost physically threatened, and my first reaction is embarassed anger.
Thinking about it further, I suppose my athletic abilities are probably my second Achilles’ weak spot. I remember getting very flustered a couple years back when my boyfriend teased me for not being able to do very many pushups at the gym. I think I was actually so embarrassed and hurt that I aimed a low-blow at him, insulting his intelligence. It made me feel better, but I felt bad afterward.
If there was a third weak spot, it would probably be my beauty, but this hasn’t affected me much yet for probably a couple reasons: First, I’m not stunningly beautiful, so it was never my most valuable asset. But, I’m fairly well-proportioned and I’ve always been able to turn a few heads when I clean up and am feeling confident. Secondly, I still have some youth on my side, which automatically makes you more beautiful than the average woman. So I haven’t been too bitterly crushed by anyone rejecting me as “ugly.” Not yet, anyway.
The trick now will be spotting future character “attacks” for what they are: My own insecurities about being good enough and feeling valuable as a person. It’s hard when you are thrown into a new environment, being as sensitive as I am beneath my exterior, to stand your ground and believe in your strong qualities, or further, in your innate value because YOU EXIST.
You have to acknowledge the crutches you hold onto that carried you through childhood, while not leaning too heavily on those crutches that you push others away. I’m learning to resist anger and work with others through what feels like attacks, so that you can both grow together in your understanding of one another, and to bring out the best in both people.
Added 6/17, 7:00pm
I thought of my other strength/vulnerability after writing this: My integrity. I believe I grew up as somewhat of a perfectionist, in order to avoid anger & instability in my household. So when I think that people might be questioning my integrity, I take it very personally and get angry and panicky, thinking that my world may collapse if others believe I don’t have integrity. It is hard for me to feel accused of anything; in fact, many times I’ll feel embarrassment over a situation in which I could have dong the wrong thing, but didn’t, but just the fact that even a stranger would consider that I might have done something wrong makes me flustered. I’ll turn red, and then people will think that I’m lying when I’m really telling the truth. It’s weird, but I suppose it’s all tied up in that childhood psychology of feeling like I must have integrity or I might die.