Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Unscientific, perhaps, but revealing...

I admit it. I've been reading the Dilbert Blog faithfully, ever since Scott Adams was a keynote at a conference I went to in June. He is just an amazing character - even more interesting than Dilbert himself.

Today, Scott posted a question on his blog - asking his readers to respond to two questions:
1. Standing in a fog, you glimpse a doorway. Do you go through the doorway?
2. What is your gender?

I generally don't post comments unless I feel that I could add something worthy to the conversation, and even then, I still hesitate to post. For some reason, after a few moments of hesitation, I chose to answer his questions.

1. I hesitate.
2. Female

Later today, he posted his observations about the first post. To sum it up, he thinks that men plow ahead unless there is something explicit in the way (like a big sign that says, "Do not enter,") where women may need more of an invitation. He theorizes that this is why men negotiate and receive higher salaries.

Interesting, to be sure.

In my reply on the second post, I said that I often hesitate before posting comments. I am reminded of a sign that my father had in his classroom about proving ignorance by opening one's mouth. I can't remember the exact quote, but the point is that if you don't open your mouth, ill-formed (implication - dumb) thoughts can't escape to prove that you are not intelligent.

The only time I post comments on others' blogs is when I feel what I have to say would be worthwhile, supportive, thought-provoking. I worry about saying the wrong things, at the wrong times, in the wrong ways. After all, I was never invited to read in the first place, let alone butt in with my pennies.

So many times in my life, I've been mocked for things that I've said innocently enough.

In elementary school, I was Hermione Granger (with glasses, but no bushy hair.) I raised my hand; had most of the answers and was willing to share them. Not because I felt superior or because I wanted to gloat that I knew something no one else did. I wanted to help the teacher move the lesson along. It was painful to see the teacher patiently wait for an answer. It was painful to wait to learn more about a subject.

One instance in particular stands out in my memory. In fifth grade science class, we were talking about the parts of the eye. Cornea was mentioned. I raised my hand to share, "I had herpes on the cornea of my eye." The class started laughing. I was puzzled. I knew that herpes was the medical term for a coldsore. That coldsore virus messed up my cornea, which is why I have worn and will always wear glasses. Of course, I didn't know that to every other fifth grader, the word herpes was only ever used to refer to the STD.

This wasn't the first or only time that my "big" mouth (as my family referred to it) got me into what I viewed as trouble.

Somewhere around junior high, my classmates started picking on me. "Neanderthal" is the insult that resounds in my mind - when I went to school with unshaven legs and crop pants. "Porky Pig" - the chuckled comment from my teacher after I stuttered over the challenge spelling words for the next week - Psychology, Psychiatry, and another psy- word that I can't remember over the sounds of classmates giggling.

I became self-conscious. I only wanted to hide.

And I stopped volunteering answers until it was excruciating to sit in the stalled classroom any longer. It just wasn't worth embarrassment. It wasn't worth the pain.

I was silenced.

So here am I. Twenty odd years later. Still tentative in expressing my thoughts, let alone my feelings. Even to the most trusted person in my life, my husband.

Just like with this blog, I often wrap my feelings into a nice neat bow; a rallying cry or a rebel yell, a conclusion. I rarely have shared the raw emotions. When I can compartmentalize them no longer, I release some of these feelings in my private journal - the one which only I am allowed to view. Because I'm ashamed of them.

Because it shows the truth.

That even though I am far along my road to recovery where I choose not to cope with stress (emotional, physical, what-have-you) by using food, my emotions are not all dressed up in boxes with ribbons and bows. I am not perfect.

And I'm not quite okay with that...



Faith said...

Still tentative in expressing my thoughts, let alone my feelings. Even to the most trusted person in my life, my husband.

Until VERY VERY recently, me too. I have made a complete ass of myself when I was young and I became a miss-know-it-all because being wrong had such horrible consequences.

Today, however I feel like, what are we waiting for? I mean, yesterday, you spoke up for all of us and a whole bunch of people that can't yet and the author of the freakin' Body Myth wrote to you! Wow!!!

I hesitate too Jeanne and I want you to know that this was a really good post for me to hear right now. Also, if you want in on my cul-de-sac blog (and anyone else) please do feel free to email me at soqueer at gmail dot com.


Jeanne said...

You're right, Faith. I spoke up not only in class, but on this blog and the author of the Body Myth not only wrote to me, he cheered me on.

It's okay that I feel proud about that. [I actually jumper up and down and clapped my hands when I realized who Joe was. 8-) ]

I'm going to try not to hesitate so much anymore - especially about the Body Myth. It's just too important.

Thank you, faith!! I really needed to hear this - to know that I'm not alone. 8-)

Sarah said...

for me, I hesitate because I'm afraid to be wrong. If I don't know for sure that I have the right answer, I won't volunteer. The things that happened to you . . . those are the things I always have been afraid of. I can only think of a few periods in my life where I was comfortable enough in my own skin to really show myself. And those were a long time ago.

Wow, that's kind of depressing. I'm not as sad a sack as all that. I just wanted to say that I think it's great to finally have a place (the cul-de-sac) where I can be me.

I've always been afraid to show you me. This place has been a real revelation for me. I'm very glad you're here, Jeanne.

æ said...

I absolutely appreciate how you speak up on my blog. You offer me great support. I hate to think that could have been silenced.

And I for one, just my opinion or preference, really prefer to read the messy stuff, the stuff that's real and raw and not bow-tied. I love people who offer that, really I do. Okay, maybe that's not enough incentive to let it out (my devoted readership as incentive, eh? Maybe if I paid for my subscription!) but it is a genuine offer that I don't leave when people get all messy.

take care.

Jeanne said...

sarah -
This is going to sound odd, but I'm glad that I'm not alone - that you have felt hesitant to share because you are afraid of reactions. But then, I'm sorry that you ever felt that way.
I'm glad for the cul-de-sac as well. And I'm really glad that you're here, too.

ae -
'Thank you' just doesn't seem enough.
It's funny - I never turn away from someone when they are raw and "messy;" I admire her the courage that it takes to show it. To be real.
Someday, I'll get there. And I'm glad that you'll be there when I do... and that you won't run screaming in disgust.

roark said...

Hi jeanne, wow this is a good post. Admitting to things, it looks to me almost like a rough outline of things to come... Hmm...

I for one am never a bow tied poster, I just let it all out. And (as you know recently) it has its issues, difficulties, vulnerabilities - I second guess myself sometimes, but it also feels just incredible most of the time. I hope you slowly come over to the dark side. :)

If you want, of course.

I had a similar childhood experience, in general. Raising my hand, answering the questions. I just couldn't NOT say something if I knew it or had a question. For whatever reason I got self-righteous about it when my peers made it clear they didn't like it, so I never silenced (which sounds so painful, I'm sorry you had to go through that) but I also didn't get to fit in with anyone bc of it. Ahh, can't win!

Hang in there. You're digging up some good, good stuff.


P.s. Is it "it is better to be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt"? That's what comes to mind... I do need to find the happy medium there!

Jeanne said...

That's it, roark!! That's the saying (or dern close to it!) Thank you!!!

And thanks, too - for your encouragement. I think you are right, perhaps this post is the beginning of something different for me...

I really admire you and all the others on the cds who are being real through it all. Highs and lows and in-betweens. It truly is inspirational.

Thank you!