Balancing our individual needs with the needs of the group can be a fine line to walk.
No, I didn’t invent a new language. POK is an acronym for “Pissed Off Kids”, and of course, POV is “Point Of View”.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about mood.
Why do I wake up some mornings already stressed out, on edge, irritated and annoyed? Why do I sometimes wake up feeling inadequate, or as if I’ve been humiliated? I know it’s usually because of dreams I can’t even remember clearly. But why do those feelings linger? Probably because dreams feel real, right up until we wake up.
I’ve also read how things we aren’t even conscious are, can affect our mood, even our actions. If we read a list of words, one word like “angry” or “unfair” can cause a change in our outlook hours later–even if we can’t even recall that word from the list.
I’ve always had issues about “fitting in”. Some of comes from being a child of the 50’s, where expectations for women (in art, in academia, in business, even in sports) were different than they are today. (As in, they were lower.)
Some of it is being part of a large family. I’m the oldest of seven sibs. I’ve noticed that younger sibs learn much from watching family dynamics all their lives. They observe what works and what doesn’t when dealing with parents, they learn when to keep their mouths shut and how much information to share. Oldest kids have only adults for their role models. We spend a lot of time explaining and justifying our actions. I tend to believe if only other people understood me, my intentions, and my motives, they wouldn’t judge me so harshly. (Um…I just realized that’s probably why I blog.)
This may also be why I’m so obsessed with the “why” about making art. It’s a powerful tool to connecting others to my work.
Some of it is being a parent. We think we have more knowledge and experience than our kids. That’s true. But we forget we don’t have their experience. Their life is very different from ours. We often make assumptions that get in the way of truly seeing them.
The theme running through all of this is something I learned when I belonged to a craft guild years ago. When you belong to a group of any kind, the group has a lot vested in you being a member of the group, rather than being an individual with different goals and needs. In the case of the quilt guild, group pressure can subtly affect something as big as your color aesthetic over time. When I realized that was happening to me, I left the group. (nb…they were actually very nice people, it was very subtle thing.)
I get it. I really do. It’s easier for groups when everyone is on the same page. When there are common goals, much can be accomplished. Accommodation takes time. Patience. Energy. Even compassion. All those can slow down or interfere with a group’s common purpose.
So, in the group or out? Which do I prefer? I always chose me. What are the drawbacks there?
For me, it’s the fact that I still feel guilty about choosing myself over the group. I want everybody to be happy! So I explain. I explain way, way too much, to people who don’t care–because they want the group. Which isn’t good.
The problem with wanting everyone to understand me is, I’m trying to control what other people think of me.
Explaining, sharing the “why” about me is only powerful when people want to know. If we’re talking about customers who like my work, then they care.
If they don’t care, if they aren’t my audience, or the group is more important to them, then it’s a losing battle, and rarely works for long.
As I get older, I realize I’m expending a lot of energy that could be put to better use.
I might be a POK. (Thanks and a hat tip to Amy Johnson, who not only coined the phrase, she has lots of insight about what it’s like, how it works, how to reach out to a POK, and what not to say to a POK. (Hint: If I’m focused on my needs and my POV, it usually will not appeal to the POK.)
Today I realized I’m stuck in the middle.
I want to be understood, and accepted. But the people who I want to understand, do not care. So I’m angry and self-righteous, and unhappy.
I say I must be myself, and not molded and shaped by the group’s expectations. That means I must be comfortable with not being part of the group.
But most groups react badly when a member leaves. This is a fact of life. I was taught to be “a good girl”. The resentment directed at me for “not being nice”, for choosing “me” over “us”, is hard for me to bear.
“Not fair!” I cry.
This solves nothing.
And so I understand I still have a lot to learn. (Hence, the “eternal student” moniker.)
In a very primal way, I’m still learning the only POV I can control is mine.
The only person whose actions I can manage are my own.
The only people who want to know “why”, are people who care.
Now if only I could convince my dreaming self to get on board with that, my morning moods might improve.
Er…booze and chocolate for breakfast, anyone?