Everyone who knows me knows my facial expression rarely changes. Not because it can’t, rather because I don’t want people to know what I’m thinking. As the Queen of looking entirely emotionless, I’m able to negotiate and confront with ease and find that most people give my words their undivided attention, likely because not having a ‘says it all face’ gives people no choice but to listen to what I say. Though my blank face comes with some perks, there are downfalls to it too. For instance, navigating my irritatingly male-dominated workplace, which has proven itself an unwelcoming environment for committed women. The other day, after being called “mean” by a male co-worker for the umpteenth time, it dawned on me that people have a very limited vocabulary. Far less forethought and self-awareness is exercised when deciding someone is rude, standoffish, or difficult than when admitting they’re faithful or disinterested. Even more convenient for the decider is when – instead of being impervious – the targeted person slowly changes, in a subconscious effort to prove to their accuser that they are in fact gentle and considerate. Without even knowing it, how we choose to react to how others label our behavior can alter how congruent our actions and values are, ultimately causing us to lose the very people, places, and things our devotion to our virtues helped us maintain.
Obviously, I’m not mean, I’m married, and because I plan to stay that way, I can’t succumb to misnomers all willy nilly. And because you also plan to keep your relationships – or at bare minimum – your personhood intact, you can’t either! Today, as you’ve had it up to proverbial ‘here’ with hearing awful and generally misinformed things about yourself, take time to journal using the following questions as prompts: What are some of the names people have ignorantly called me that I’ve accepted as truth? Which of my values have I violated in an attempt to generate favorable conversation about me? If empowered to term my negatively described behavior(s) in my own words, what would I say? As you write, recall that in Genesis 2:19 God relinquished the power of naming living creatures to man. That means YOU are the final authority on you. Choosing to regard the adjectives people have used to describe you as deficiencies in their linguistic capacity instead of deficiencies in your character will do wonders for your self-esteem! Remember, you is smart, you is kind, you is important. Period.