Monday, March 19, 2007

Not An Accident

There are all sorts of discussions about owning your success. Whether its a girl thing or a sort of introverted thing (my answer keeps changing on that test, and really, I don't blame the test) or whatever, I have a tendency to downplay success. And we're not even talking great success here, we're talking I started volunteering here or found this great thing. I noticed I have a tendency to describe how I came to such places or things as this series of coincidences or happy accidents. And there's nothing terribly wrong with that, after all patterns and coincidences are fascinating. Except that I was giving the impression that things happened to me only through luck or some sort of fate. I wasn't taking responsibility for any of it, I was distancing myself from the result.
My father used to be bugged when I would get a compliment on my clothing and I would respond with the price tag or a comment that it had been on sale. Now part of this, was my dad didn't get that in the girl culture you are supposed to respond to a clothing or accessory compliment with a provenance of sorts. My dad's point was that I should gracefully accept the compliment and not try to downgrade it by demonstrating the cheapness. I explained that I was proud of the cheap, and in fact viewed it as bragging about my shopping skills. But it was an interesting point about how other people might perceive my response.
All this leads me back to how I describe myself, my job, my volunteer work, and other things I spend my money or time on. I recognized that certainly one could view the choices I've made as a series of patterns and accidents. But of course, that is only a surface view. I have been offered other choices, could have applied for other jobs, given plenty of opportunities to dedicate time and money to, and I don't take all of them. In part because I can't, but also because some of them didn't appeal. So, while the choices I ended up making may seem like a series of coincidences, they are the ones I chose to take advantage of. So instead of describing my paths as Candyland where I drew the best card, I could frame it or own it as having weeded out the best choices for myself right now.

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