Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The need to justify

I went to college at a small Southern Baptist university.

On Sunday mornings, if I skipped church, I would actually get showered and put on my Sunday dress before going to the cafeteria. Ya' know, so people thought I had, indeed, gone to church.

I wasn't the only one. Lots of us did this.

If someone saw me out and about during "church hours," I always stopped to lie explain why I wasn't at my place in the pew.

As a young mom, I always felt pressure to explain my choices: an afternoon at McDonald's, what was actually in my kid's bottle, WHY they had a bottle, why I missed play group, etc.

The other day, several other dread goddesses and I admitted that some of us wear make up and like it, or shop at Target and Old Navy. We all knew we could say these things safely and fully to each other, but the undercurrent was, "We're afraid of being judged by hippies at large."  Yup.

In another conversation with an unschooler, I felt this overwhelming urge to explain that we're not fully unschooling by the definition of most, and why, and, then ... how much of my family's personal info do I share?  Ugh. 

We all fall into this trap. I could blame it on negative responses I have received in the past. Raised eyebrows. Finding out later that someone was making assumptions and judgements about me behind my back. However, regardless of what I've experienced in the past or what feelings it triggers, my response is my responsibility. Nothing else is to blame.

My name is Christine, and I have an unhealthy issue with over-explaining myself.

I know this. I'm working on keeping my mouth shut. I'm answering only what is asked and not going into a long explanation to cover all areas of possible judgement.  I've even been trying a new thing.  When I have the feeling of, "Oh, they're not going to agree with this or may have a problem with (fill-in-the-blank)" I just ... sit with it.  I keep talking normally.  Or I stop.  Whatever.  But I resist the urge to explain myself. 

The more I do it, the better I'm getting at it.  Granted, I have days where I completely slurp and end up stumbling all over myself verbally trying to explain why the vegan has a Sonic bag in the floorboard of her minivan and exactly what a freegan vegan flexitarian is and why I believe in balance in all things, and, and, and, and ...

I'm learning that while I have a pretty good read on others and I am very discerning, sometimes I'm just plain wrong.  Sometimes I assume what another person is thinking about me, and I'm completely off.  Sometimes people don't even give a crap about whatever the heck I've dubbed their greatest obsessive thought in that moment. 

Yesterday I looked at my kids and said, "Don't let anyone tell you that you have to feel or act old, or stop learning new things, or stop changing - ever!"  I really want to be better at this.  I'm making a conscious effort to improve because it's pretty much a colossal waste of my brain power and energy. 

I should save myself for when people are blatantly put off by me, ya' know?  It's exhausting work being offensive.  Why create it when it's not there?


Dennis Nesser said...

I think it's funny the dreads wearing, tattooed, person who will talk honestly and open about ANYTHING (thinking Sexuary here), would find themselves needing to justify anything to anyone.

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand. After all everything thinks I should be "fill in your own here" and inside I'm always thinking, "yeah, but I have to because of ..."

But I think what it should show to everyone is that it doesn't matter who you are, where society puts you on the "you've got your shit together" pole, we all have insecurities. We all struggle. And we all want affirmation.

Though I have to admit,the older I get the less I look for affirmation and more I look to see that what I did was "right" not by societies standards, but by a standard much higher.

Thanks for once again proving you really are human, and not just a super chick sent from another planet to help us be better people.

Dennis said...

that last paragraph that Denis wrote that says it all...
from one over explainer to another, love ya.

anya* said...

I have dreadlocks and I straight iron my bangs.
There, I said it. Ha!
Also, I think I often over-explain because I don't want someone else to 'feel bad' or think my choice that is different means I am judging them and their choices.

Love you dearly!

Unknown said...

I didn't know dreads came with a rule book and i'm seriously not trying to be sarcastic. I honestly didn't know.

If it helps. I retrograded some of my leather shoe's because seriously screw that crap. I don't believe in waste. But if you think I can say that to another Vegan without cringing....

Not that I know any Vegans.

Its cool you want to explain yourself it just means you want to fit into your community. We are born with the desire to fit in. Its the lube of society. Its ok to care. When we tell ourselves we are rebels there is a little bit of a fallacy to that. No one is a true rebel. If you where you'd walk away form society completely and live in a hut somewhere far far away from society. Its called a hermit.

I think you have proven you think for yourself and you make decisions based on what makes you happy and what is right for your family. The rest is just your desire to be able to show you are part of the tribe and that you appreciate the rules and thoughts that make it the tribe you want to be part of.

brooke Ef said...

The people that you feel that you have to explain yourself to are the exact people you should care the least about, but I get it. We all do it. It's just most of us rarely admit to it. Good job on keeping your lips sealed when you realize it's not worth explaining. The people who are judging you aren't worth your energy. Leave them alone. If they don't "approve" they will weed themselves out, and you will be happier that you don't have to censor yourself.