If you asked anyone who has known me for most of my life, some of the descriptors they would use are bossy, opinionated and talkative. All through elementary school my parents would hear the same thing over and over… “Elizabeth is such a pleasure to have in class but… there’s this way, that way and Beth’s way.”
My parents knew I’d never be at risk for following others but they did worry about creating a monster. You want your child to feel confident, to be a leader, but you don’t want them disregarding the feelings of others.
In general, I’d say I feel pretty balanced out except for the last few years of my life. In the fall of 2007, I began working for a “place” that operated very differently from what I was used to working in. On top of feeling like a fish out of water, I also thought this was the job for me so I approached everything ever so carefully. I didn’t want to step on any toes, hurt any feelings or be bossy-talkative-opinionated-Beth-whatsoever.
My first month was based on testing, and during my second or third exam, I hit my first hurdle. I was being tested on all the state abbreviations, easy enough, but I missed one. I review the answer and find that “NE” for Nebraska is marked with the correction “NB”. Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm?! Yah, no. It’s “NE”. First off, I know this answer is right because I studied, and secondly, by freak chance, I happen to own a home in Nebraska. I am pretty damn sure I’ve got the answer right. I bring this to my trainer’s attention and she argues that it is “NB”. We go back and forth, getting no where, and I back down.
Now that’s a small example but just the beginning of my very frustrating balance between the Wicked Beth of the West and the Good Beth of the North. I don’t want to make a stink about this error on my test, but I also can’t argue with the person who is training me. This happens again with a different trainer later on, and even worse, she tried to tell me that the study guide must be wrong, not her. Jesus! Are you kidding me?
The topper on this whole story is a confrontation I had between me and a higher up. This particular person told me something very crucial about my position, and was very unprofessional in doing so. When asked by my trainer on what happened, I was honest about what was said. This set off a huge disruption between this person and the higher up. Ultimately, I was put back in front of the higher up, and in front of a colleague I had great respect for, was called a liar. You would think I would have stood up for myself and said, “No. You said what you said, and it was clear as day.” Instead, I sat there quietly, allowing her to cover up the unfortunate incident she didn’t want known.
What in the world was I doing just sitting there? Why didn’t I stand up for myself? Why didn’t I challenge what she said?
I completely shut down. Partly dumbfounded by the situation, but also so scared of not obtaining all I had worked to achieve. That’s not the Beth my family and longtime friends know.
When I look back, I grit my teeth. I did a 180 degree turn in personality that day, and it’s been very difficult coming back from that. I’m always so concerned about speaking out of place that I don’t speak up at all.
Just the other day I was discussing this insecurity feeling with a friend over dinner. We talked about how she is very opinionated and often times catching herself saying things she might have not said if she thought twice about it. I tell her, “No way, that’s great. You are strong, and you are just giving your opinion.” I always believe it’s not what you say, but how you say it. But then I don’t tell myself this, and I spend so much time worrying about everyone else’s feelings, or if I am stepping on toes.
If you spend so much time worrying about everyone else’s toes, you won’t see the house falling on your own. It’s not about being a good witch or a bad witch, it’s about being Dorothy and following the yellow brick road with courage, brains and heart.
I’d like to leave this blog open for discussion. Which version of Beth are you, and how do you deal with it?