“They were wrong.”
I can remember when it became more normal than exceptional for someone to bring unhelpful attention to how girly I was or how manly I wasn’t. It used to really hurt my feelings.
Over time, I have come to accept that I’m not the typical “guy’s guy,” embracing that as a part of who I am and changing when I see room for growth.
For the boy version of me though, I think that was a really big pill that was really hard to swallow; my feelings got hurt pretty often.
As a child, it often seemed and felt like everyone possessed a simple revelation about my [lacking] masculinity since more people than not were compelled to make unconstructive comments about it. Kids being kids are great at making their private observations public, and many kids did not hesitate to publicize their observations and opinions about me.
Some made their announcements to my face. Others made their announcements behind my back. And naturally, many used those observations and opinions to [mis]interpret who I was and determine how they would [mis]treat me.
Worth noting there is this: it was never necessary nor has it been necessary to prove or validate the rightness of those observations and opinions about me and my being “a man.” And sometimes, adults do exactly what kids do; we’ve just been doing it longer. Consequently, and again quite naturally, all kinds of people have been prone to misinterpreting and/or mistreating me.
And being misunderstood, in some ways, has become the story of my life.
And the results of being misunderstood have led to some legitimate hurt.
Rather than inquire more and figure me out, many have thought that they had me all figured out like that. Or perhaps they just settled for what they saw and figured the rest wasn’t worth knowing.
I don’t know. I shouldn’t assume. I just know that they were wrong.
Oh how wrong they were, and wrong in more ways than one.
Interestingly enough, I used to reason that something must be really wrong with me, that maybe I’m not just a different guy but a deficient guy. I really wondered if I was making a big mistake as a male to be seen and treated like I was by so many people. Again, when the exception becomes the norm, it is quite appropriate to start believing that that thing is not an isolated incident but a significant pattern.
As a counselor-in-training, I practice identifying patterns in people’s lives, seeking to make people more aware of the adaptive and maladaptive things they do. I spend significant time and energy working to understand people, and I can admit that, while I have some of the best intentions around, I have certainly done my own deal of misunderstanding people.
Knowing that there is plenty I don’t know has become one of the most profound aspects of my dealings with people. Sure, I know what I know. Simultaneously, I recognize and remember that I don’t know what I don’t know, and knowing that changes how I utilize the knowledge I possess.
Metaphorically speaking, I won’t dare to believe and act like I know the whole story just because I read a couple of pages of one chapter.
Figuring that out for myself has made me steward what I know much more carefully; I don’t want to hurt the whole of a person with the part that I know. I recognize that I have my work to do, and I’m doing my best to get it done. I also consider that some things may have been wrong with me then and may still be wrong with me now. These are all humbling things for me to remember.
The theory holds true for others too. Everyone needs to practice seeking to do no harm in their dealings with people. And if I have work to do, others have their work to do too. And if I can be wrong, then others can be wrong too.
Knowing that they were wrong puts the hurt I have felt in a different light; it makes forgiving possible and forgetting easier.
It also proves to me that as wonderful as the world can be, the world is always in flux and incapable of providing me everlasting love.
Love Love Love,