I was sorting through the day’s snail mail, when I had the thought about how very responsible I was being, sorting out the day’s mail. It was a minor thought, but really the idea of being responsible is a pretty significant one for me.
I grew up feeling I was irresponsible. It wasn’t just a feeling. I was convinced I was irresponsible. Like it was an indisputable fact.
I think the idea of my being irresponsible was not wholly untrue. Indeed, I was called “flaky” and “space cadet” by humorous and accurate peers growing up. During the college years and somewhat after that, I had a penchant for cancelling on people at the last minute or because I felt overwhelmed by some matter or another. Oh, and need I mention that I was late all of the time. Sometimes so late no explanation could possibly cover the gap of time that needed to be explained.
The funny thing is, I am not irresponsible. I may actually have a case of real hyper-responsibility that is masked as a mess-of-a-life sometimes. Perhaps my lack of awareness of how to behave in certain situations and of how to be organized enough to avoid undue problems made me seem uncaring to others and even sometimes to myself. That emotional confusion which was both internal for me and interpersonal with my family, friends, and colleagues remained as a block to my thinking clearly about decisions, obligations, how to have fun, and how best to be responsible.
Good news is, I am a problem-solver. And with the good fortune that I also possess, I was able to recover from this emotional confusion as an adult. In many ways, my life is more mundane now, as I am no longer submerged by drama all of the time, or feelings of crisis. It’s not that stuff doesn’t happen to me or to people I care about, it’s just that I can see what I need to see now. I am far less confused.
I’m sharing this to help you to understand your own negative feelings about yourself are just that – feelings. Very little is totally unchangeable about how you are and how you behave.
The next time you think about labelling someone irresponsible (or the next time you think of yourself as irresponsible), pause and reflect on how complex a field and person you may be commenting on.
What epiphanies have you had today while sorting mail? Please share or else you’ll have to feel irresponsible. Kidding.