I just had to get this story out.
This past weekend, I attended the annual convention for AFWJ. Actually, I didn't just attend, I was on the planning committee and have been helping to plan for the past year. I want to write more about the convention itself later, but for now, I just need to get this out.
One of my closest friends in AFWJ told me that another person mentioned to her the following observation. From afar, she and I look very sweet and nice, but when someone listens in on our conversations, it is obvious how bitchy we are. If we are not razzing each other about something or other, we are speaking (in a negative way) about others.
Now, this is not ALWAYS the case, but to be honest, it is OFTEN the case. Up until this weekend, I would always say, "Well, isn't that what women do? Talk shit about others constantly?" Hmmm...well...no, not really...that is what I realized this past weekend.
What I do is not normal, it is just pure bitchy. And, I need to work on this.
I realized this in part because on Saturday, I attended a workshop about dreams. It was amazing, and I want to write more about that later too. The workshop presenter is an AFWJ member named Sheila, who now lives in her hometown in Minnesota, so I felt a sort of kinship with her to begin with. But, her story of how she got to this point in her life is really amazing and inspiring. Her workshop woke something up inside myself, which is yet another topic I will tackle in a later post. Anyway, she offered to show people her Masters thesis presentation on powerpoint later that night, and I showed up to view this because I was interested in learning more about her and her work.
While we were watching her presentation, my 2 closest AFWJ buddies (both members of the planning committee as well!) came and sat beside me. They were chatting away, not necessarily interested in the powerpoint presentation because they had not attended the same workshop. I think they were waiting for me to finish. Anyway, Sheila (the workshop presenter) finished showing her Masters thesis presentation and then showed a presentation she often uses in her classes, which is about the history of dream interpretation and dreamwork. I found that interesting as well and then we were discussing had happened during the workshop that afternoon.
Like I said, her workshop and the particular dream that was discussed during the workshop awoke something inside me and forced me to remember what type of person I had been striving to become BEFORE I got caught up in marriage and daily life.
As soon as we finished our discussion though, my two friends and I started complaining about various things that had happened that day, mostly things related to the planning committee and their members. Sheila immediately tried to steer us in a more positive direction by saying "You never know what is going on what that person right now." and "She could be just reacting to other problems in her life." In other words, it doesn't help to sit around and complain about this person, and it certainly doesn't make for a postive, sisterly atmosphere.
Sheila, obviously, has been through a lot in her life and has grown so much because of it. Through her creative work and her intellectual work, she has managed to carve out a very positive space for herself. This must be hard to maintain with so many negative people like us around.
I felt embarrassed...here I was trying to have a conversation with a person who is 100 times more intelligent, mature and educated than me, and I'm pulled back into bitchiness with my close friends (whom I love dearly), but it is like a bad habit. Bitchiness is my cigarette.
However, this whole situation made me realize something about myself. That thing called spirituality that awoke inside of me is something I want to pursue further, and I am going to work on myself to become a more positive and sincere person.
Oh, by the way, I blame Catholic school for my bitchiness. I mean, I don't blame Catholics, but the way it worked in elementary school was that if you saw someone wear some hideous outfit or hairstyle, you would go up to them and say in your most enthusiastic tone, "Wow! What a great outfit. You look so wonderful! Where did you get it?" Then, turn around and snicker with your friends. Considering that I usually wore handmedowns, this was said to me quite often and I learned to do it in return...finding every opportunity I could to "compliment" people.
I DO NOT DO THIS AS AN ADULT. When I compliment people on their clothing or hair or whatever, I truly mean it, but still, when others compliment me, I can't help but think, "Really? You're kidding, right?" But, I do other things, like complain about things that people do or say. I shouldn't let it bother me, and if it does, I should follow my dad's advice - something he ALWAYS said to me whenever I complained about anyone, "Have you ever just gone up and talked to that person? Maybe they have a reason for acting that way. Or, maybe they are going through a hard time and need someone to talk to." He was right, and so is Sheila. I need to keep that in mind.
You can click on my link Monkey Bridge Arts to see Sheila's web site