When I was in college, one of my professors mentioned that I didn’t handle criticism very well. Let’s be honest, who does? Especially as a young adult. As an art major, being critiqued comes with the territory, but us artist types are also known to be a wee bit sensitive. Now, most people who know me today would probably laugh if I was ever described as sensitive. After all, I’m tough, I lift weights, I’m a single Mom, work multiple jobs, etc. I’m ragingly confident. I swear like a sailor. Danielle? Sensitive? (cue laughter)
The funny thing about feedback is that if you take it to heart, you can actually change. Introspection is one of the hardest things we can do as adults. Who wants to realize their faults and flaws? But by doing so, we can address them and make the effort to change. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. And yet, as someone who’s dramatically changed her life over the past 7 years, I can tell you that realizing that I need to work on myself constantly, was the best lesson I ever learned.
I used to tell people that you either love me or hate me. There was no in between. I’m fiercely loyal to people I care about. And I’m genuinely a good person. But I’m rough around the edges. This is no secret to me or anyone in my life. I’m not going to get all psychoanalytical on how my tough exterior is shielding a fragile interior (because it’s not), but of course, the saying goes, you never know what anyone is struggling with, so don’t presume because I can be harsh, that makes me a bad or mean person. I’m intense. More so in certain circumstances than others. Patience and I have a long history of not getting along. But we’re trying. Every day. And yes, I am vulnerable and soft. I just save it for a small few.
I’m an acquired taste. Most of my friends would say amazing and wonderful things about me. How I inspire them. How I’m awesome and funny and a wonderful Mom. How I keep in touch and always make plans. How I make an effort to keep people in my life who matter. (let’s not forget how modest I am) But I also realize that my delivery isn’t for everyone. Now, some people might say, too bad, this is me, deal with it. But how does burying your head in the sand help anything?
We took a course a few years ago at work that went into workplace behaviors and personalities and showed how certain types of people perceive other types of people. The experience was eye-opening. Nothing is malicious in intent or perception. But the more you know about how your message might be received, the better you’ll be at communicating it. You still might not be everyone’s best buddy at the office, but that’s ok, so long as you know how to talk and deal with them.
The same goes for dating. Every relationship is a chance to get better. To learn about who you are and what you want…and what you need. Which are not the same thing. It took a while for me to realize that I was projecting the wrong image of myself in the dating process and preventing people from getting to know me. I’ve since modified this and while my success in finding a long term match hasn’t paid off yet, my repeat date ratio has increased exponentially. I changed enough to make them want to get to know me.
At the end of the day, we are who we are, but that doesn’t mean we can’t evolve and change to make sure that people get a chance to discover the real us. Change is hard. Which is why so many people are unhappy and stuck in situations they “can’t” get out of. Because it’s easier to stay with the familiar. But then I’ve never been one to take the easy way out. So why start now?