Thursday, October 20, 2011

Need to Do

Herringbone Boots (Source)
Confession: I am a do-it-yourself, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, miss independent fixer. I see the need for change, and I want to do something about it. I hear the toilet running incessantly, I figure out what is loose and I tighten it. I feel like my space is empty and bland, I add some artwork or colorful pillows and blankets. I feel stressed by the uncleanliness of my bedroom, I clean it up and organize.

This can be a great trait to possess, until I try working with others. Throughout my schooling, I have always struggled with knowing how to work on group projects and the like. I like things to be done the way I do them, which is usually thoroughly, efficiently, and effectively. I have a hard time leaving space for others to offer their ideas because it is easy to do it myself and get it done as quickly as possible. I like to have control and know that things will be the best they can be according to me. Try applying this trait now not just to working with others in the short-term but also the long-term, like long-term friends, roommates, or boyfriends...yeah, it gets messy.

I find myself wanting to fix all of those people, too. I see their stress, I hear about their pain, I sense their frustration or unhappiness, and I want everything in the world to make it right. I am still trying to decide if my motivation is driven by my care for them or by my desire to ease the discomfort of being around people who are upset. Hopefully it is at least a mixture of the two. The important thing to note, though, is that either way there is just not that much I can do to make those situations better or to fix them. I cannot keep a person from feeling or thinking what they think or feel. I cannot offer an attempt to understand unless they are willing to help me understand. I cannot force conversation or laughs. I cannot help people sleep or heal their illnesses. I struggle so much with knowing what to do, and that's because those situations cannot be solved by the rules of a doer.

Relationships often offer me an opportunity to learn to be. Instead of doing, being requires listening, sitting, hugging, words of empathy, moments of silent affirmation, stepping back when I just want to step further in... it's a seemingly passive role that is hard for a doer like myself to adopt. I think I have the ability to sense when someone is off, when someone is having a bad day or a bad moment, and whether that is a blessing or a curse, not being able to do something to fix that off moment is maddening for me. It's best that a doer, however, learn to adopt the role of the be-er (not of the alcoholic persuasion, of course). Sometimes the best thing I can do is simply be present for someone and support them in that way.

You know, now that I think about it and apply the doer attitude to other things in the world, I do kind of grow weary of people exhibiting the extreme, revolutionary sort of attitude. It takes a lot of energy to be a doer and sustain that go-and-do attitude all the time. Trying to actively change the world for the better is often exhausting and sometimes blinding. It's important, too, to note that people's struggles need not always be fixed or eased despite the natural inclination for things to be as such. There is something to be said for being uncomfortable or struggling (although I certainly do not write off reconciliation, redemption, and the like). Often those situations are the ones where we learn the most, and denying someone that learning experience for my own comfort's sake is clearly not fair. I hope that I can continue to understand what kind of posture I can assume as a be-er in order to learn to be the most caring, selfless, and supportive friend to those I love. That is my desire, and I hope that I can be shown some of the same compassion and grace in my attempt to form that identity of understanding. I think my counselor would cite my need to practice "radical acceptance," and I think that hits the proverbial nail on the proverbial head.

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