Show me who you are . . . not

I have been reminded lately of who I am by being shown who I am not.

I prefer self-definition via positive affirmation along the lines of “I appreciate simplicity” or “I value family time.”

Recently, though, I am shown who I am and what I value due to my distaste and aversion for what my fellow humans sometimes show me.

Nothing like a bit of clarity to start your New Year, right?

secretary 11The woman who screams over the phone about how her team has been working weekend after weekend, insinuating this is how it should be. That those of us who take time to be with our kids on the scant two days we have for them per week (with, ostensibly, no work obligations) are slacking. Did I mention this was about two weeks before Christmas? I’m sure her team appreciated missing family and holiday prep time for the six weeks prior.

I am not the power hungry. Not full of blind ambition.

My ambition is tempered by the events of the past several years. I have been shown what is important.

I am not the executive who has no regard for the boundaries between work and family. I am not one to make someone else feel less than because they do not subscribe to my values. If an executive wants Top Dog status this badly, so be it. But to make everyone within firing range suffer because of blind ambition? No thank you. I prefer to treat my coworkers as human beings for whom work is just one aspect of life. Not all of life. And I think I produce quality results without killing my teams because of it.

Perhaps this is because I had a mother consumed by her career. And in the end, which I was there for, it gets very lonely. You realize all that pushing and striving—all that achievement—tends to fade like a dusty book jacket. This is a lesson many of us have yet to learn. In the meantime, executives like the one I described will caterwaul their way through team after team, leaving an ugly wake behind them. So be it. But I intend to stay out of that wake.angry man looks

I see ever so clearly the West Coast man who epitomizes the plasticity that tends to come with that address. The man who name drops at every turn, performs the Tim Gunn once-over of your outfit before deciding if you merit his conversation, throws out snap judgments on everything from the latest young starlet to the low IQ of those who watch network prime-time shows.

I am not superficial. Not plastic.

I am, instead, painstakingly human.

I value people for who they are. Not what they wear. Not who they know.

I don’t appreciate ego—in myself or in others. And I probably swim in circles where there is far too much of it. “Don’t show what you don’t know” is the rule of the weak. I roll my eyes as I listen to stories and diatribes meant to up someone’s profile. I keep quiet about the major designer with whom I chat more about our kids than her new clothing line. Or the rock star, A-list stylist and the supermodel I have on speed dial.

I don’t speak all that differently to the rock star stylist than I do to my elderly neighbor (who wouldn’t know a stylist from her hairdresser). People are people. And your name dropping simply shows me how affected you really are. If you did not feel the need to impress me, these names would never come up in conversation—as they do not in mine.

I am an absence of pretense to your excess. So be it. That simply means I find your pretense nigh on unbearable. As you may find me.

There are times I am sure people see me as naïve because of my desire to keep things simple. Kind. Real. Just because I do not regale you with a sarcastic, razor-sharp wit does not mean I do not have one.

Some of us, in knowing very clearly who we are, have weapons in our arsenal we do not use.

That’s called restraint. Maturity. Wisdom. Kindness.

We are brave enough to be called a fool for believing in humanity, kindness, honesty. In being real.

And we generally are rewarded. Perhaps not as quickly or showily as those of the blind-ambition ilk are.

The difference? Our rewards tend to last. As yours, my dear plastic friends, are fleeting or empty. It’s tough to enjoy that big house on the hill when your family deserted you for your long hours at work years ago. Hard to have a lunch with friends where you laugh until you cry when they stopped showing up because they knew, deep down, the snarky comments flew out of your mouth later about what they said, or wore, or ate.

I have seen the end. Seen both of my parents die. Something about that, if you are a thinking person, gets priorities in order ever so quickly.

I know who I am. And who I am not.

Which makes me one of the lucky ones.

I am far from perfect. Faults galore. But I do not leave a wake characterized by raucous ego, pretension and one-upping.

Those things I am not.

I say it proudly.


23 Comments Add yours

  1. I loved this. (I’m doing my reader thing today, which is often so much nicer than the writer thing lately!) there are so many points to point out, the plastic people they are everywhere and I know that I too am a target of their derision because I don’t do acrylic nails, perfect hair or the latest styles (possibly not even to the offense of your designer friend) because as I learned as a child, “beige, white and navy is always in fashion” and keeping it simple has saved my life. I wonder about the name droppers…. Is it a compliment (oddly) that they try to impress others? It’s sort of a backhanded / paradoxical thing… If they didn’t want us to favor them, why would they try to put us “in our place” by the dropping? I know that’s not at all the intention, but honestly…. It is a tad bit strange. Nice post. All of it.

  2. We’re the lucky ones if we’ve learnt the value of kindness, respect, consideration and love. I drank this post in and loved every word.

    1. candidkay says:

      “I drank this post in and loved every word” is music to my ears:). Thank your for the kind words. Means a lot coming from you . . .

  3. Refreshing and honest post, Kay. I could not agree more with your points. True happiness!

    Jennifer x

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Jennifer, for the kind words and for stopping by!

  4. KM Huber says:

    I have come to realize that before I ever know anything about what I am, I have discovered what I am not. There was a time that made me uncomfortable but no longer. Great post, Kay!

  5. You certainly do have weapons at your disposal – insight, wisdom, honesty and the ability to hone in to the heart of things.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the kind words. I guess I’d call those weapons of peace, eh? 🙂

  6. Ahhh. So nice to read about your priorities being right on the mark. Yes, there is a lot to say for having been on the planet for a while, and for gleaning what’s important because of life’s experiences. Must get annoying having to deal with people who haven’t gotten there yet; or at least, it would annoy me.

    Lately, my son’s stress around school (sixth grade) has been very high. His teacher expects a lot from all of her students, and he gets overwhelmed. My mantra with him has been, “You can only do what you can do. And she can’t kill you.” Some days are better than others.

  7. darlasue22 says:

    Awesome post and so refreshing to know who we are and who we don’t want to be. Thank you 🙂

  8. Good post, Kay. Knowing who you are – and who you’re not — is a big step on the road to wisdom. happy new year to you and your loved ones.

    1. candidkay says:

      And to you, Cynthia! Here’s to the shower of blessings heading our way:).

  9. cac824Carla says:

    ” Have weapons in our arsenal that we do not use” love this, and will remember it’s best to keep them metaphorically locked away.
    Great essay, just what I needed today❤️

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s hard, some days, not to be Annie Oakley–isn’t it? 🙂 Thanks for reading–hope all is well in your world . . .

  10. Marie says:

    Kay, your humility and integrity illuminates a rare elegance of character.

    1. candidkay says:

      Kind words, Marie. Thank you so very much.

  11. Call me a fool, too, as I believe in humanity, kindness, and being real. This is a reality check many people will eventually cash. I left my most recent job when I realized that receiving emails from co-workers at 2:00 am on a Saturday (on Easter weekend) was the norm. Great insight, as always! Best, Karen

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh my. Been there too. It’s funny–when I left a job to focus on family, it was tough on my ego. But best decision I ever made. And then I was met with unprecedented success (at least in my playbook) by taking the road less traveled. I only wish those leaps were less terrifying. Glad to see you made the choice for a healthier environment!

  12. markbialczak says:

    Add this, Kay. You are a great example to many people. Thank you.

  13. Amy says:

    May you continue on your good mission to keep things simple, kind, and real. You know who you are, and I know who you are. And I am so glad to call you my friend. xox

    1. candidkay says:

      Right back ‘atcha:). Thank you, as always, for the kind words, Amy.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog! I appreciate it.

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