Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Muse: The Lesson of the Not-So-Wonderful

When I was a child, I was told to obey all adults without question. Adults are smarter than children (so I was led to believe), therefore my place was to defer to all adults and treat each one with absolute respect.

That is not how I'm raising Alex and Sage.

The truth is, maturity and ethical behavior have absolutely nothing to do with age.
My kids already know this, they've seen it for themselves, first-hand. That's a good thing. It's important for them to know that no matter who you are or what you do, there will always be a ratio of wonderful/not so wonderful people in your life. This ratio has nothing to do with age; one would think that "adult" equals "mature" -- but, alas, it does not.

This ratio becomes more apparent once you step outside the box and dare to live your life in your own way. If you do anything that falls too much outside the norm, the Not-So-Wonderful people will, without a doubt, make a Big Giant Fuss. As Alice Walker writes in The Color Purple, "Folks don't like somebody being too proud or too free."

My original purpose of blogging was to share our trip reports with our family and a small portion of the local hiking community. The blog eventually morphed into something much bigger; the comments, emails, and private messages I've received over the past couple of years make it clear that our hikes and adventures inspire other girls and women. I feel good about this. If we can have a strong and positive effect on even one person, then that's a wonderful thing indeed.

There's a price to putting yourself out there, however. There's a cost to being "too proud or too free." Being proud and/or free makes you an easy target for the Not-So-Wonderful. Though the vast majority of messages I've received have been supportive (thanks, folks!), a few have been..well...not. I'm not talking about genuine questions or respectful but opposing points of view. I'm talking about intentionally offensive rants.

I have shared some of these negative messages with Alex and Sage. Why? Because we live in the real world, and the girls need to learn about the Not-So-Wonderful people who will always, no matter who you are or what you do, be out there. The girls have learned, through our many talks, and by seeing for themselves the poor behavior of a thankfully small minority of adults, that this is real life. There will be always be folks who try to rain on your parade, there will be always be people who say you shouldn't do this or that, there will always be folks who try to put a rock in your bag of Halloween candy. The trick is to know that immature behavior on the part of an adult reflects a deficiency of character within that particular adult. The best you can do is recognize the immaturity for what it is, not take it personally, and move on.

The girls are not disheartened by any of this. Thanks to our many conversations, they understand that this is simply part of the real world. There are people you can count on, and there are people you can't. There are trusted and beloved friends of the family, and there are folks who whisper incessantly behind your back. It doesn't really matter who you are or what you do, there will always be people who genuinely love you and like you for who you are, and there will be those who are...well...Not-So-Wonderful.

The lesson is, of course, to be who you are, no matter what.  Do not be afraid to be bold, to be free, to walk your own, unique path. The Not-So-Wonderful will always be there. They are the yin to your yang. Learn from your encounters with them, if you can, and continue along your brilliant and beautiful way.


Justin Wolf said...

Well said, Trish. I wonder if some of the Not-So-Wonderful people are overly critical because of their fear of failing at their dream.

Thanks again for sharing!

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Thanks, Justin. Fear of failure...that could be it. I also think that insecure people find pleasure in putting others down. It's much easier to gossip about others than it is to examine your own life.

Steve Maguire (elvios Lincoln) said...

The girls seemed real happy when I met you guys on Katahdin last summer. What could be better that spending time with their mother in the mountains. I'm sure they'll remember their cool mom fondly when they get older. Have fun and play safe. -Steve Maguire.

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Hi Steve! We enjoyed meeting you on the top of Maine! Thanks for your nice message. The girls had such a good time that day. They loved Cathedral Trail, and they got a kick out of speaking to everyone on the summit (including you!). Hope to see you out there again sometime.