I had an interesting conversation over lunch with a good friend last week. Dana and I are both very creative souls and we both work in education, but that’s about where the similarities end. I’m a Student Life director, so by nature, I’m quick to act, easily juggle, rarely have time to analyze, and frankly, don’t like to analyze. I’m just more of a “do-er.” Dana is a counselor and psychology professor. ‘Nough said? She was telling me about some books she’s been reading…all in the self-help variety…and I was trying to feign interest but just couldn’t do it. I’m currently engrossed in the Twilight series. I must admit, I’ve never read a self-help book in my life. Honestly, I can’t think of a non-fiction book I’ve read that was outside the scope of school or college homework. Is that terrible? We’ve had some long talks about relationships (hers mainly) and though I love her to death, she frustrates the hell out of me when she comes to me for advice because, in my eyes, she analyzes things to death. I’m more of an “it is what it is” kinda girl.
We started talking about planning and goal setting and laying out some future plans for her life. Do you see where this is going? Do you remember me saying here how forced the Monday Page feels for me? So I admitted I’m not much of a planner or goal setter either. She just laughed at me and said, “Well then, how the heck do you do all that you do?” and I had to think about that for minute. All I could come up with was “Um, I just do it.” Lame, huh?
I’ve mentioned True Colors here before and I think that’s where my “Orangeness” comes into play. Here’s a basic rundown of an “Orange”: I act on a moment’s notice. Witty, charming and spontaneous, I consider life as a game, here and now. Impulsive, generous and impactful, I need fun, variety, stimulation, and excitement. Optimistic, eager, and bold, I value skill, resourcefulness, and courage. Physical, immediate, and fraternal, I am a natural trouble shooter, performer, and competitor. I value freedom, adventure, play, spontaneity, and variety, and I’m frustrated with schedules (particularly being on time) and unnecessary routine. I’m independent, action-oriented, flexible, energetic, and optimistic.” Blah, blah, blah…. Hmmm, which should explain why I’m so easily bored and even more easily distracted.
I’ve been a True Colors trainer for about nine years now, and it’s amazing how much knowing the principles behind it has helped me in my life. Most of the actual training is a blur to me, but one moment I remember very clearly. During the introduction, our trainer—Roosevelt something or other—cautioned us that because of the nature of the training, we’d be learning a lot about ourselves first and might have some epiphanies that surprise us. I definitely had one of those. My best friend Jim was going through the training with me (my DH calls him my “other husband”), and he saw the moment happen, and lucky for him was the one who had to help me work through it later that night. Our training was in June 2000, six months after my mother’s suicide. I can’t remember what Roosevelt said, but I clearly remember the thought that immediately popped in my head. My 54-year-old mother thought she had nothing to live for, yet she had me, a 34-year-old pregnant-with-twins me, and my 24-year-old sister. That realization hit me like a ton of bricks. All I could see right at that moment was that we weren’t reason enough to keep her alive. I wasn’t reason enough to keep her alive. My flexible, energetic, optimistic self crumbled right then and there. Jim saw me shut down and got me out of there as soon as the moment allowed. Also being an “Orange,” his first instinct was to “do something,” so he dragged me up to my room, got me to change into workout clothes, and took me out for a ride. We were in Atlanta, and the Olympic mountain biking training course was nearby and open to the public. It was a rough ride; he pushed me harder than what I was used to (he’s done three Ironman triathlons), but it was exactly what I needed. He helped me work through that moment physically so my mind didn’t really have much time to think about it. And later that night he sat there listening as I blubbered through my tears. But I got through it. And I think that Orange nature is what helped me get through it. It took me about another six months to gain back the self-esteem that plummeted with that realization, but I did bounce back, and I know I’m a stronger woman for it.
Maybe that’s where the title to this post comes from: Woman, Know Thyself. I had to remind myself of my worth, and I had to remind myself that “it is what it is,” and I can’t control the actions of another person. So back to Dana, no matter how much someone tries to analyze a person or even your own life, your analyzing isn’t going change anything. But your action will. As the saying goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Maybe my experience is what keeps me from being a planner and a goal-setter. I’m a child of five divorces and a mother who killed herself. I live in the here and now, most definitely. It reminds me of Miranda’s “someday is today.” In my typical rambling fashion, I’m trying to figure out what the heck my point was in all this, but I think maybe just “knowing thyself,” first and foremost, and not worrying about the goals and expectations that others put on you, is the first step to just “doing it.” I think that’s ultimately the advice I gave Dana: stop analyzing and just do something. And now, distracted by two little redheads dressed in fairy wings and calling my name, my train of thought has gone down the track of knowing thyself needs to go play with her children and enjoy this beautiful Spring Break day.