I’m an Uptight, Closed Off Bitch.
Do you ever feel like there must TRULY be something wrong with you, like you just can’t seem to fit in and do the right thing no matter how hard you try?
This has been a running theme for me for pretty much as long as I can remember, but I guess as an adult who works mostly alone, stays mostly within the bubble of her own family, rarely even goes out, it’s easy to forget that.
Unfortunately, sometimes, life likes to give you little reminders of why you’re not good enough.
In the last week I’ve been admonished by entrepreneur colleagues on two occasions for the way I’ve behaved and not, essentially, ‘acted right’. On both occasions I first felt embarrassed, uncomfortable, guilty and wanted to try and ‘fix it’. But at the same time –
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told by others that I’m not ‘acting right’.
“Why don’t you smile more?”
“Just relax honey … it’s okay to smile!”
These are the sort of things people have said to me over the years – from way back – whenever I’m in any kind of bar or party environment. As a bar chick back in my late teens I prided myself on always being the fastest, the most effective, I’d get through 10 customer orders while my colleagues were still chit-chatting with the first. I’d smile quickly, take the order, just about FLY through the bar to whiz it together, take cash, give change, another quick smile and boom! On to the next person.
When I worked like this I felt alive, free, on fire. I like working fast, furiously, challenging myself to push and do MORE. I’ve always been that way, in the gym, in business, and in life. In fact, whenever I slow down and take time over things I truly feel as though the very soul is being sucked out of me!
Problem is – if you want to see it as a problem – others don’t like this.
People don’t feel COMFORTABLE when you act differently to what they expect. They want you to be like everyone else, take it easy, lighten up, go with the flow.
This is all very well and I totally ‘get’ why that might be a nice thing, I also get the value of my bar colleagues back in the day having lingering laughing chats with the customers, it’s not that I don’t see why that could be a positive (although personally I find such dilly-dallying just INFURIATING!), I can totally be ‘sold’ on why others might like that style but when all is said and done and no matter HOW well you explain it to me, it’s just not ME.
And I gotta tell you – I’m DAMN sick of being told, cautioned, even patronised to by others that I need to smile more, loosen up more, be more friendly, let myself go.
For years, as much as I wanted to seriously smack people on the head when they told me to smile more, I also felt awful about who I was as a result of it.
I’ve truly wondered at times whether I should even be allowed out in public, I clearly just don’t DO it right or seem to know how!
I felt embarassed, frustrated, ashamed, guilty and just ‘wrong’, that I couldn’t seem to be like the other bar girls. And I tried, I really did try, and that made it at times even worse because I’d be feeling so good about myself for being so friendly, for really trying to put myself out there, I’d observe myself and note how ‘free’ I was being and feel a sense of relief that finally, I was fitting in, I was acting how you’re SUPPOSED to act, I was BLENDING.
And then I’d hear it –
“Why don’t you smile more?”
“Why don’t you just loosen UP?”
“Stop acting like such a square!”
And I’d want to cry, because I WAS trying. And it was so damn UNCOMFORTABLE because I was trying to be someone I’m NOT so I could be accepted, and I truly thought I was DOING it even though it felt SO awkward, but clearly and despite all my efforts I was still, transparently, the girl who took things too seriously.
And I felt so UPSET because it was clear – no matter how hard I tried there was just something WRONG with me, and I’d never fit in.
I’d always be that girl in the corner when everyone else was dancing, I’d always be the one who didn’t know how to act when a boy spoke to her, I’d always be the one who wore the wrong clothes in the wrong way, who weirdly just wanted to be alone, who liked to take things seriously and focus within, who actually preferred to stay home reading instead of going out.
And for a long while there I also felt I’d always be that girl who, despite all of the above, would push aside her natural inclinations and try to do the right thing.
Last week, on Friday night, I went to an INCREDIBLE wine dinner here in Vegas. It was a super fancy affair and when we drank some of the best wines from Bordeux in France, some dating back to the year 1100! We had a great time eating amazing food and learning the history of the wines from our host, a fellow entrepreneurial masterminder of mine. It was a wonderful evening – I’m in my element and totally comfortable sitting at a dinner table, drinking wine, talking business and life.
After that, we went on to a bar, grabbed a few drinks, and sat down. I’d had over a bottle of wine to drink at the dinner and had by this point moved on to Prosecco – it’s safe to say I was pretty tipsy 🙂
I was smiling, talking, even got up to dance for a bit (BIG deal for me I just don’t LIKE it!) and I was feeling pretty damn good about myself for just relaxing on a night out, going with the flow, for fitting in. For having a good time, laughing, dancing, mucking around.
And then I heard it –
“You know, you really should just loosen up a bit”
And I gotta tell you – my heart just about sank like a stone. I felt disbelief (this IS me loosened up, I AM fitting in!), sadness, frustration, and yes, anger.
Because you know what –
But I played along with the conversation. I guess it wouldn’t be ‘cool’ to say I AM loosened up here, I THOUGHT I was having a great time, in fact I WAS having a great time mate until you TOLD me that clearly I’m not.
I thought I was doing it right.
I was enjoying myself.
I thought I was part of the GROUP.
No really – THANK YOU.
For reminding me that I’m not, never have been, never will be.
And for the rest of the evening, instead of feeling light-hearted and free like I had been, I listened as I was told all of the reasons why I’m a square and need to lighten up.
This was all done, of course, from a place of love and care. It was from someone in our group, not a stranger, so I know it was GENUINE trying to help me.
And maybe I could have just ignored it, laughed it off, should have perhaps.
Instead what happened is that uncool teenager in me came straight out and I started almost believing that yes. I do need to act differently. There is something wrong with me.
I’m not good enough.
How I really felt, is like I was back in school, and being told I couldn’t be part of the cool club.
Have you ever felt that way, as an adult? In business, or in life?
I feel it all the time. It doesn’t usually bother me anymore, but sometimes – yes. It eats away.
The next day, on Facebook, the person in question commented on one of my photos from the night –
“That was a fun evening. Usually I just say “no” to annoying MCs who impel me to do silly things in public and on stage (esp on my birthday). That night, I decided to just go and have fun and not be a ‘square.’ I had far more fun that way.”
THANK YOU so much for that reminder of how I should act, for that carefully worded turnaround of exactly what you said to me about how I should act.
I kind of laughed though, rolled my eyes, and moved on.
And then this morning, something else happened. I received a comment on yesterday’s blog post, a comment not really at all related to the topic of the blog but kind of deliberately linked back to it in order to be able to make a point.
“In terms of what works for ME, I always find that being respectful to people and making good connections works and is a good part of what makes me ‘wealthy’. For me, it’s not about working furiously on the laptop, being rude to people and only being interested in people who you perceive to be worthy of your attention. But like you say we are all different and we have to find what works for each of us.”
Instantly I felt bad, embarrassed, uncomfortable and ashamed – clearly, again, I’d done something wrong.
But this time, I stopped.
I thought about it.
The incident in question was at the end of a day last week in which we (in the mastermind) were assigned to work as well as network. WORK was part of the agenda for the day.
As it happened, I was on the final day of a launch that day, and although it was planned out there were – as always! – a few little niggles.
I was on my phone checking through some things for my team and giving some feedback on stuff that needed to ideally get fixed up right away, when one of my fellow masterminders approached me to chit-chat.
I didn’t want to talk, not only because I was in the middle of something, but also – introvert here, at the end of a long day surrounded by people, and I flat out just wasn’t FEELING great, after having taken myself off post-surgery painkillers early, just that day. I wanted to be back in my bubble, with my babies 🙂
So was I rude?
I guess so, if it felt that way to the other person. I smiled, engaged in a minute or so of conversation, and then let her know I had a launch coming down to the final hour and that I needed to finish off what I was doing.
“Well I guess you just don’t want to talk then!” she said, as she left.
No. I don’t.
I said that.
I get it.
I’m an adult. In a ‘networking’ (slash work!) environment.
I suppose I SHOULD switch on and be a bubbly, friendly, super happy to chat all day long person like (most) everyone else.
I suppose the RIGHT thing to do, even though I was clearly engaged in something when she came up, was to put aside what mattered to me and happily make small talk about skincare products.
Only thing –
And I’m tired of trying to fit in.
And I don’t think it’s an odd ask to request space to complete a task, if you’re interrupted in the doing of said task.
So here’s the thing.
I’m just gonna tell it like it is lovely. I’m going to put it on out there, ALL the stuff where I am wrong, a misfit, where I don’t act like I should. And you can mock me, or patronise me, or inform me of my misbehaviour, but you know what?
I’m done with trying to fit in.
So here I am, the real me –
- I am an introvert and I fucking hate small talk. I LOVE talking to people who I already know, and going deep into conversation. Yes. I know that this means I may sometimes miss out on new friendships and connections. This reality does not for me outweigh the pain and boredom of having to make small talk in the first place.
- I don’t smile much. It doesn’t mean I’m not happy. I just don’t freaking walk around all day grinning like a clown! I don’t get why I’m SUPPOSED to?!
- I like working. I like being in my own head. My favourite thing is to be left alone to write. If you interrupt me while I’m writing I will want to rip your head off. If you interrupt me while I’m working I will be pissed off, and I very well might show it. I find it highly direspectful to interrupt someone who is working; I don’t get why that is a THING. Yes. I realise that admitting this stuff makes me the Anti-Christ. I don’t care!! It’s who I am and I’m happy being me.
- I’m not comfortable in bars or at parties. I don’t like dancing, I flat out don’t enjoy it and never have. There are plenty of other things I DO love doing and going crazy at, so don’t make me out to be a loser because I don’t want to get jiggy with it. I’d rather be firing through a Tough Mudder adventure course or racing up a mountain – THAT is where I let my hair down! That’s where I feel free! And if I’m in a bar and I’m participating and having a drink and hanging out don’t freaking tell me I need to loosen up! I just want to be ME and you can be you.
- I look serious and studious most of the time. If you see me working you’ll probably think something awful just happened. I don’t even think about how I look while I’m working! But clearly other people do, and are not happy about it 🙂 well, too bad. It ain’t gonna be changing!
- I don’t believe in being friends with somebody just because you move in the same circles. If you click, awesome. If not, why push it?
- I would pretty much always rather be alone in a cafe with my laptop, or alone at home reading, or alone in the gym, training like a demon. As compared to just about any possible situation.
- I feel REALLY uncomfortable when people get uber friendly in my personal space. I don’t really know how to handle it. That shows.
- I am socially awkward. I really do try. But I don’t think I’ll ever find it easy to just ‘fit in’, in a big group, to just connect and chat and network. I used to care about this a lot. Now, I’m more about realising it’s ok to be different. I’m no longer trying to CHANGE even though I do try and make an effort. To be honest, making that effort exhausts me and I WILL reach breaking / burnout point. At that point I just want to get away from EVERYONE!
I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist.
This is who I am.
I’m an unfriendly, closed off, uptight bitch.
And I’m okay with it.
It’s so easy, if you’re not careful, to allow the beliefs and ideals of others to impose themselves upon you. You’re trucking along nicely, doing your thing, and all of a sudden somebody says something, does something, looks at you in a certain way or attempts to ‘help’ you, and suddenly where you previously felt fine, in the zone, in the flow you now feel uncertain, uncomfortable, like you’ve done something wrong and maybe YOU are someone wrong.
If you look around at how most people do business – and life – it’s pretty damn clear that a pretty GOOD portion of their path has been guided by the beliefs and ideals of others.
And it’s pretty natural, for most of us, that we work to fit in.
We want to be accepted, we want to be liked, we want to be loved.
We want to be one of the COOL crowd.
But what we really want, dare I suggest, beyond and beneath all of that, is to simply be allowed to be ourselves.
To not have to worry about doing the right thing, about fitting in, about doing it the way it’s SUPPOSED to be done.
I would love to be accepted by others for being me.
But I’ve come to realise that it’s, for the most part, not going to be happen.
[pq] Well – judgers are gonna judge. [/pq]
They’re going to tell you how you should act, what’s appropriate, what’s okay.
They will tell you to conform.
They will ASSUME that you want to.
And in many cases, when they’re so busy judging, they will miss seeing who you really are.
Because I, I am an uptight, closed off bitch.
But here is who else I am –
- I can go into a truly deep and transformational conversation with you, especially in an intimate environment.
- I am highly intelligent and can challenge and teach you on all sorts of things. I’d also love to learn from you and be challenged by you, once we’ve had the chance to first connect. Right or wrong as it may be, it’s unlikely I’ll properly connect with you in a big group networking or party environment. I’ll be hiding out by myself or with the people I already know.
- I develop deep and lifelong friendships with those who I connect with on a soul level. Mostly my friendships are 1:1 not group based. It just happens that way.
- I can get a lot done, fast and furiously, while others are still sitting around thinking about their first move. I can also help you to do the same. What I cannot do, is engage or participate if you want to first naval gaze about it for however long.
- I can laugh till I pee in my pants, act like an idiot, muck around and be silly with my kids or my friends, just be a goon.
- I can have a great time being one of the quieter and less engaged ones. Sometimes I am one of the louder and more out there ones. Depends on the situation and the day!
- I can have fun
- I can be happy
- I can connect
- I can be me.
But what I can’t do, what I’ve realised I’ll never do, is be what you want me to be.
And nor should you.
I know I’m not the only uptight closed off bitch out there.
I know I’m not the only gal who feels like this, acts like this, is like this. Who others see as rude, unhappy, uptight, whatever.
I know that many people will want to now explain to me all of the reasons why I’m sadly living a lie, and need to change.
I don’t fucking care and I’m not going to change.
If you’re with me, let me know.
Us uptight bitches gotta stick together. Preferably in the corner, with a glass of red 🙂
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Life is Now. Press Play.