Sunday, September 28, 2014

Be You

Two favorite quotes I've been trying to live by lately:

"I'd rather be respected than liked." - Gale Ann Hurd

and

"Better to be an asshole than a chicken-shit." - Sheldon Patinkin

Like many women of my generation, I was brought up to be "nice." It has taken me too many decades to realize that "nice" gets you nowhere. But "nice" can be an unconscious reaction.

There's nothing wrong with being kind, but there's a fine line between being nice and allowing one's self to be walked on. And this is a hard thing to learn. I've slammed the lid on my own Pandora's box of thoughts, words and needs so many times that people who know me often say, "What do you want, really? You have a right to say," while they try to drag it out of me.

To say "No thank you" is not the same as the more definitive "No," which in turn differs from "No way, you jerk," if the situation warrants.

Learning to say any variation of No is a process for me. Or Yes, for that matter. And I'm not the only one.

I like these old sidewalk stamps in Pasadena. I suppose they're only in the pre-WWII neighborhoods but don't quote me on that.


This one's post-war. You can quote me.

The hardest thing to be is yourself. At least that's true for me. And yourself changes, with breakthrough after breakthrough, throughout your life. "Breakthrough" sounds kind of glorious, but sometimes it's just plain hard work.

Being my best self is easy at home with my loved ones (none of whom are jerks, by the way). But out in the world, being myself means being honest as well as politic, and being glad of my achievements as well as my weaknesses. It means not hiding behind "nice."

Damn. I guess that means I'm a person.

18 comments:

Dina said...

Very nice!

Ms M said...

Good observations. (And good photos, too!) I've also had to deal with the "nice girl" stuff for years. I think it was especially engrained in the Midwest....

Petrea Burchard said...

Hee hee, Dina!

Ms M, I keep trying to get at it and I'm still not sure I voiced it right. But maybe it's Midwestern, I hadn't thought of that.

William Kendall said...

There are a couple of areas here with sidewalk inscriptions that I'll have to photograph before winter.

I had to learn the hard way not to get walked on.

Laura Monteros said...

Well, I don't know if I'm respected, but I know that many times I am not liked for what I express.

I think the difficulty of standing up for yourself depends on who is facing you. It's a lot harder for me to say no to my adult kids, who are really independent and only ask when they have no recourse, than it was to say no when they were little and needed to learn limits. It's not hard for me to not be nice to telemarketers, but boy is it hard to get off the phone with an acquaintance who thinks I'm nicer than I am.

As for the sidewalks--in LA they were still stamping them post-war for some time. Not sure if they still do or not; it probably depends on whether the city does it or they contract privately. In Altadena, we just walk in the street.

Petrea Burchard said...

As you express so well, William, women don't have a corner on this market.

Thanks for the info on the sidewalk stamps, Laura.
I think your explanation of phone dealings explains a lot about email and texting.

Margaret said...

Yay for you! I agree with everything you've said.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Margaret. I sure like it when people agree with me. Your most recent post got me thinking.
http://margaretfinnegan.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-bullshit-manifesto.html

Bellis said...

You've still got a few years to go, but once you're over 60, you've earned the right to do exactly as you like, no excuse needed.Until then, how about concocting an artisanal excuse or two?

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I saw an interview on Ali McGraw.. she said it took her years to be able to feel comfortable to say 'no'.. and she had the same view of it as u do.. She also said it took the move from L.A. to New Mexico.. she found the genuineous in people there... they weren't concerned w/superficial like the celebs in BH.. they also weren't afraid to speak their minds. For me, its all in how one says it, not what they say that matters.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Bellis, but I'm close enough to 60 so no more excuses, no matter how crafty.

KBF, so true.

altadenahiker said...

I was born arguing, so this isn't my particular issue. But the sidewalk stamps have always fascinated me. Clarence Day is the one I see most often, and I found a little info: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dogwelder/980901156/

Bellis said...

What a find, Karin. He helped design/build Caltech, and lived on Eldora!

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Hiker, that's great stuff! Day indeed designed and built most of Eldora Park. I know the current owner of 492 Eldora, and sent the information to him. The house is designated a historical property. The link doesn't cite sources, but the current owner will know for sure if Day lived there. Another historic personage who lived in that house was Pasadena's first African American city councilman.

Ann Erdman said...

I wonder how R&D have been doing since tax day 1993. Are they out of research and development and into a marriage or long-term relationship? Or did it all fizzle the next day?

Petrea Burchard said...

Ha! Hopefully they made it at least until property taxes were due.

Jato said...

That is a great post Petrea. Reading this reminded me of why I'm so proud of being the kind and respectful person that I am. Sure, there have been many times in my life when I was influenced by others to show my anger. But the more I acted towards that influence the more I ended up hating myself. It's better to be yourself than being someone that others want you to be.

Petrea Burchard said...

Hi Jato,
I think you nailed it with your last sentence: "It's better to be yourself than being someone that others want you to be."