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Saturday, January 10, 2009


I'm a complete ditz.

That actually used to be my reputation, back around my college years. Even before. No one ever called me "dumb" because they didn't think that; just a bit air-headed. And yes, I was. Some of that was just being young and running around looking at the world with stars in my eyes. We all did that to some degree, even if not in such a loud dramatic way.

I'll never forget my first review at the psych facility, where I worked with children and adolescents. I rarely saw my assigned Supervisor as I worked a different shift, and wondered how my first review would go. It was nerve-wracking, as this really was my first job. Yes, I'd been a lifeguard, and I'd taught after-school enrichment classes for elementary students, I'd worked a few years in a community-based child care and as a chaperone. But the psych facility...that actually MEANT something for my future.

So I went into the review, and sat down with Ruth. She had a file in front of her and went over some things, asked a few questions, and then was very candid. She told me that when I'd first started, she wasn't at ALL sure about me because...and here she hesitated...I seemed like such a ditz.

I remember cringing in my seat but striving to retain an impassive expression; she was right.

But then she said that she'd also seen my reports, the reports of other staff, and how I handled things on the unit, especially with regard to the frequent crises that happened. And she told me, "So whatever you're doing, but keep doing works!"

And she also gave me the advice to be more "self-aware", which she didn't need to define; I too often let my temper show, and then, as now, I wore my heart on my sleeve.

Growing Up

Somehow, over time, I've become less and less of a ditz. At least...outwardly. One of my nicknames in high school and into college from someone who knew me well was "Giggles".

Yes, I'm quite embarassed by that. Of course THEY loved it and just adored the lovely color of red my face would turn when they called me by that name. But it was a term of endearment, even as it called out to one of my flaws.

How many of us have or had nicknames that arose out of not our perfections, but our flaws?

To this day, I still carry the traits that used to be obvious, but maturity has forced them into hiding. They haven't gone away; I'm still a ditz. I'm still clueless.

Back when I was in Law Enforcement, one of my FTO's observed that I did seem to have a gift of having sudden, complete, intense focus. But it took nothing at all to destroy that focus. One commented that my ability to focus like that could save someone's life one day (he tended to be the positive one).

And so, I can manage to be observant and not entirely oblivious ALL the time, but it's very easy for me to become distracted and lose focus. I can look directly at a situation and not see a problem, only to learn later on there was something OBVIOUS going on.

I can be completely in tears with empathy in one moment, and the next, entirely miss what's really going on.

Because of this flaw, I know I've unwittingly been rude to a lot of people. And I have to wonder; would I rather be thought of as rude, or a complete dimwit?

Beating Ourselves Up

All of us have our lost moments, without exception. We do stupid things, we get wrapped up in ourselves and miss what we're supposed to be seeing. We are maybe not feeling well so facts aren't penetrating our minds. There are a thousand things that can cause us to miss what is before our eyes. Or it could just be our flaws.

We tend to know our flaws, and when they come to our attention, usually through our own realization too late to make amends, we beat ourselves up. Or if we realize it in the moment, we end up destroying it by trying to backpeddle and re-do it. Sometimes it's best to just move on.

Usually the "offended" parties notice our faux pas and have already moved on, either because they know us and expect our flaws, or have decided it's nothing to worry about. People can see the difference between intent and oblivity.

So it happens that we are often long forgiven by the time we even realize we've been cause for offense.

The very fact that we are proleptically forgiven for being ourselves should be cause for humility, for we don't ever deserve such consideration. And yet, there it is.

We all have friends and family members we dearly love even as we see their faults in full relief. It's part of who they are and it's what makes them...well...them. It would be wonderful if some habits would go away, but because maybe that will never happen, we accept the little things and love others in spite of annoyances.

When we lose our loved ones, often what we remember and love most were the things that bothered us.

Maybe, when we are silently berating ourselves for minor offences, although we should learn and try not to repeat them, we should also try to keep them in perspective and understand what is a pea in a tower of quilts to us is nothing but a forgotten moment to others.


X said...

I had a former boss who called me "a dumb blonde." It took years to get over that. In fact, I am not sure I am over it 100%. And I am not even blonde.

ck said...

Ha! Don't feel bad. I get a bad rap too for being scatterbrained. I think intellegence makes one more introspective and contemplative, so while everyone else is enjoying a party, we are contemplating the meaning of life, and we get nailed for being a flake for not paying attention.

When I space out into my own thoughts, my sister teases me that there is a carnival in my head and that I'm walking down the midway eating cotton candy. When I stare out into space instead of listening to the conversation, she says I'm riding the ferris wheel and she makes carnival music, you know: do-do-doodle-doodle-do-do-do-do. Sisters are such a mixed blessing.

uncle jim said...

i want to meet giggles someday

Anonymous said...

OK.. it's official. You and I are twins, born years apart and separated at birth. That was MY BLOG you wrote.