Hello again, dear readers! I’d like to start off this week’s blog by saying that my life is not a “series of unfortunate events”. It really isn’t. But, I will say that the last couple of weeks have been right out of the handbook titled “how to mess up everything in your life in 14 days”. Ok, not literally everything in my life, but almost.
Those of you, dear readers, who have already had the ‘pleasure’ (and I use the term loosely) of hearing about my latest escapade, please pardon this quick recap. There I was, stuck in traffic, construction traffic at that, which, from past experience, had meant about a ten minute wait on my 20 minute commute into work. At first as I waited on that bright and wonderful Wednesday, I was patient. I sang to my favourite Jim Cuddy songs, basked in the sunshine streaming through my window, admired the view of the scenery which I normally couldn’t even glance at on the busy highway, and didn’t even have to play referee to my unusually quiet kids in the backseat. Now that serene moment lasted for the ten minutes that I had expected to wait, but then ten minutes spanned into fifteen. I started to panic. I am usually at work fairly early anyway, but this was beginning to cut it close. I could feel my blood pressure start to rise. I began tapping and then banging on my steering wheel. The kids were fighting, louder and louder now, and complaining that they would miss recess. I couldn’t sit still; I fidgeted around, straining to see if the flag guy’s sign had been flipped from STOP to SLOW. It hadn’t. I was officially late. Thirty minutes later and my blood was boiling. It wasn’t until forty minutes had passed that we started to move. ‘How does a twenty minute commute find itself multiplied by three?’ I seethed. At that point, the look which I gave the flag guy could’ve turned him to stone. I hit the gas hard, not really going anywhere, but revving my engine satisfactorily. I can honestly say that I now completely understand road rage because that day we became close friends.
I hesitated, truly hesitated, writing about this experience. People are really going to think that I am really a nasty person, I complained when it was suggested that I write a blog on this topic. I can’t possibly share this! A loved one told me to keep it real because I am real and people will relate to that. It’s not me, I’m normally not “that” woman, at least not twice in the same month! But, I was. I can tell you quite honestly that had my children not been in the car, my actions may have been a little less subtle. “That” woman is not who I normally am on any given day. I don’t define myself as her.
Before this incident even occurred I had been thinking all week about the big question of what defines me / what makes “me” me? I debated this with friends, throwing out random questions about definitions of self. I wondered at my own self definition : Is it parenthood? My job? My responsibilities? My hobbies? My intelligence? My character? Are these the things that make up “me” or are they only a part of what I do? Is it what others think, feel, or say about me, that defines who I am? Better yet, do I let them?
We are different things to different people and those people define us, to them, in their own ways. To my children, at times, I’m Super Mom, swooping in wearing my cape, rescuing them as needed. I’m also Hockey and Skating Mom, toting equipment and driving “taxi” from rink to rink. I am nurturer, disciplinarian, and best friend. What I am to them all depends on what they need. To my extended family I’m a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a neice, a cousin. I’m a caregiver and a helpmate to those in my family and outside of it. To my friends, I am a confidante, a shoulder to lean on, and even, jokingly, a partner in crime.
Two quotes that have stuck with me have been : Our character is what we do when we think no one is watching (Jackson Browne) and You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him (James D. Miles). If my character were to change, if I really did become “that” woman on a regular basis, the definition of who I am would change also. Not only would people notice a change in me and how I treat others, but I would see a change too. If I let others define me, I will never live up to their expectations. I will never do or say the right thing. It will never be enough, because their expectations will continuously change as their own perspectives are altered. While I want people to realize that I have good character, how they perceive me doesn’t wholly define me.
On the other hand, most of us realize that material things don’t define us. They may help us to look better, feel better, and may give us more confidence and allow us to enjoy life, but they don’t make us. We would still be who we are, without those things.
Dear readers, the day of my road rage incident I lived and relived the experience over and over again. I let that incident define me. I let it determine who I was, not only for that moment, but for hours on end, and I even let it shape how the rest of my day proceeded. I vented to anyone who would listen and when simple things went wrong, I threw my hands up and sarcastically said, “Of course! Why wouldn’t that happen today?!” Luckily for me, I was gently reminded to recall a blog that I had written not so long ago. I realized that I needed to let this go. My perception and perspectives were altering a reality that was solely mine. I had been stuck in traffic and been made late for work, but the construction crews were doing their jobs. I work with amazing people, and so my class had been covered. The reality was that I made it to work and my day had gone on after that, just as the construction crews had continued until their jobs were done. I needed to remember that a momentary, bad experience doesn’t define who I am either.
In the end it’s the choices I make, how I “walk the walk and talk the talk”, that define me. My character defines who I am and how I treat others, when no one is looking and even when they have nothing to give me in return. When I turn the other cheek and focus on the positive, I set the definitions for myself. I will not allow others’ negativity, or my own reactions to negative situations, prove who I am.
It won’t be the clothes I wore, the car I drove (battling road rage or not), the words spoken about me (to my face or behind my back), or others’ opinions of me that will matter in the end. The unfortunate events will not define me. The fact that I made a difference to someone (to anyone and to myself), that I could look in the mirror at the end of the day and say “I did my best and God will do the rest”, that I made someone smile (maybe even when they least felt like it), will be what matters most. It is those things that make, and will continue to define, me as who I am. These are the things that will always make me, me.
Dear Readers, Thank you again for all of your comments and replies! Keep them coming! I love reading about your experiences and opinions. I am proud to say that Writing For The Love of It is now read in four countries! Thank you 🙂 Remember to be yourself; you are amazing! ~ K ~