By Lindy Earl
It’s just occurring to me, in my 50’s, that I did life wrong (ignoring the poor grammar, which is yet another error). You might be doing life wrong, too.
Have you ever felt like you missed something? Like something was supposed to happen, but you just missed it? Maybe you’re restless and can’t figure out why, but you just feel like something is supposed to happen, but it doesn’t.
I recently posted on Social Media about not fitting in. Many people responded that it’s not just a feeling, they really don’t fit it. That’s untrue! It’s a lie we were told, then believed, so told ourselves. This lie, and others like it (you’re not good enough, nobody really likes you), sent us down the wrong path, so we lived our lives wrong.
I was raised in a very different world. In my childhood there was respect for everyone, mostly elders and definitely teachers and friends’ parents. We addressed adults with Mr., Mrs., or Miss, not their first names. It was mannerly and brought about a certain amount of respect. That doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Entitlement has always existed – in my day it was called spoiled and some measure was taken to stop it. Everyone knew the children who were spoiled rotten.
We were told to stand in line and be quiet, and we were only being led down the hall to go to the bathroom. I was mistaught all kinds of important things, including how to get to heaven. That’s a big thing to get wrong. I was taught ego is a bad thing, even to the point of self-worth and self-confidence. I was taught that compliments made you conceited.
Because of all this, I was always afraid. I never wanted to be in trouble. If someone gave me a dirty look I was reduced to tears. I could be made to feel bad about things I said, even if I didn’t intend any disrespect. If someone chose to take it wrong, then I was the bad guy. If someone simply misheard what I said, I would take the onus for mumbling even if I hadn’t. So I learned not to talk. I see now that, in addition to bad, that’s rather sad, because I’m pretty funny and kept lots of humor within myself, rather than making others laugh.
After a lot of years and a lot of tears, there was a divorce that I never wanted. Yet, there it was, probably because I was living my life wrong. I was trying so hard to get along and go along that I wasn’t speaking my mind, and that didn’t make me a very interesting person. It also tended to breed contempt in those around me. I was easily bullied and it didn’t take long to be targeted. These people weren’t vicious, but there’s power in controlling others, and I was too easily controlled.
Here’s the good news: it’s reversible. I’m learning to stand up for myself. Just recently I did what I considered a favor for a colleague. I received a poorly written email, advertising his business. Since my job as a Business Consultant often has me reviewing clients work, all the errors jumped out at me. In what I thought was a gesture of kindness, I responded to the email, saying there were errors within, and since I have used the same CPA for years, I really didn’t belong in his database. I think culling a database on a regular basis is a good idea. I want useful, active people in mine. I was shocked when I received his response, calling me stupid and saying the difference between us is that he has a successful business. Wow! I was shocked. I was trying to help him, for free, and I was attacked. I’m not overreacting here. It was a written attack. All I had done was try to help. My first inclination was to ignore it, but I found myself dwelling on it. So I took action. I responded that I was trying to help and the appropriate response was to show gratitude with two simple words. Also, he was simply incorrect about my business (which is 19 years old) not being successful. I then removed him from my database and Linked In connections, from which I take people when someone asks me for a referral. He has zero chance of ever receiving a referral from me. That was just not a wise business move, from someone who is actively seeking clients, thus his flyer. I now say, yea me!
Once upon a time I was too shy to do much of anything. I’m getting over it! I recently embarrassed myself at Top Golf with some friends. I’ve never golfed before, but I went along. I was awful. They laughed. I laughed. I did it and had fun.
Life isn’t about doing things perfectly. I misunderstood that. I hated being teased so rarely allowed myself to be in a position where I looked foolish. That didn’t stop me from being teased, but it kept me from having a lot of fun.
So after living my life wrong for half a century, I’m focusing on living my life better now. I continue to be cognizant of other’s feelings, and I’m bringing other good parts of my character with me. I’m taking care of myself more and definitely standing up for myself. I’m stating my preferences, knowing I won’t always get them, but at least my ideas are being heard. After living my life wrong, I’m trying to live it better.
That’s life after divorce.
Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant. Contact her at LMEarl@EarlMarketing.com or find her on Face Book. Join her FB support group, Single Again: From Devastation to Dating.