A friend of mine shared this picture with me earlier this week, and it made me laugh out loud. I've been told I'm pretty good at this particular skill. As an only child for the first ten years of my life, I was a pleaser. I didn't like to rock the boat and went to great lengths to avoid conflict. Don't get me wrong, I still wanted to get my way. I just wanted you to think it was your way too. :) I didn't change much into adulthood. I've never been a shrinking violet, but if I could avoid confrontation I would.
The shortness of life is something that I have become painfully familiar with, and it has shaped me in ways that are probably not surprising. My list of things that are important has been shortened, and my need to protect the things that are important to me has been increased. I am much clearer in expressing the things that are important to me and much less worried about what someone else will think about it. I am more "me", and less "what will you think of me." I like that change, it's been a needed one for years. Too bad it took something so catastrophic to bring it about.
Living in the fish-bowl, as I like to call the state of widowhood, you become the topic of conversation: "how is she doing?" - "she's so thin...." "she's gained weight..." "she bought a new car" -"she shouldn't have bought a new car" - "she shouldn't be dating..." "why isn't she dating?...." I've become accustomed to the many opinions about my life and the way I choose to live it. For some reason when you are a widow people feel more at ease in giving you unsolicited advice, opinions, instruction. Without a partner they seem to see you as needing their opinions or requiring their consent for the most basic of activities. I won't say I enjoyed it, but it has helped me to learn a valuable lesson. No matter what I do or say, someone else will think I should have done or said it differently. I can't make everyone happy, no matter how hard I try. That realization has meant freedom for me. I can't make everyone happy and I no longer try to. The only person I am trying to please is myself, and I have high standards. If I'm happy with me, then I'm good. Guess what? I'm pretty good! :)
I haven't changed completely; I'm still very much about avoiding and/or resolving conflicts. Am I less tactful? Probably not, old habits die hard, and it's a good skill in most situations. I'm just more likely to be me regardless of what you might think.