Monday, October 31, 2011
New Attitude? Old Attitude? What's in an Attitude Anyway?
I have been making an effort to confront things that I would normally avoid, so I am going to talk about why the word attitude is on my mind lately. See, I've recently realized my attitude has undergone a change. At first this scared me because I felt an attitude emerging that I haven't felt in probably twenty years. And, there's a huge part of me that doesn't want to be who I was then. There were things about that girl that I really didn't like, even then. There were other things about her that I loved.
Crazy thing is that as I embraced the attitude I've been feeling over the past several weeks, I realized this is just more of me stepping into who I am. I can face - perhaps even embrace - having a new attitude even if it is an attitude rooted in an attitude I abandoned long ago.
For so long I pushed aside anything that reminded me of that girl because I thought she was the cause of every problem in my life. I thought if I could erase everything about her, everyone around me would have a better life. So I abandoned the good along with the bad.
Over the last several weeks, I've felt my attitude shift. It's a little hard to explain, but I'll do my best. I hadn't even realized my attitude had become so passive, so malleable, so scared... Then I started feeling more like I used to feel. I started feeling like I can do things again, like I can accomplish whatever I want, like I'm worth everything I ever wanted for myself. I started feeling confident and strong. I started feeling like no one can touch who I am at my core. I started feeling like if people can't see what I have to offer when I show them, they're not worth my time. I shrugged off the feelings, but I kind of liked them. I say feeling because I already knew these things I just didn't feel them.
Recently, while I was shopping, I tried on a couple of outfits and stared at myself in the mirror. I liked what I saw. I saw a strong, sexy, vibrant woman staring back at me. I was tempted to ask her who she was. I liked her. I remembered her. I recognized me in her and her in me.
My attitude is shifting to one of like me or leave me because this is what you get. My attitude is shiftng to one that says you will treat me like I deserve to be treated or you can exit stage left, or right. Who cares? Just go. My attitude is shifting to one that says I am worth the very best and I know it, so give me your best or go away. My attitude is shifting to one that says I'll reach out, but if you don't reciprocate, I'm done. My attitude is shifting to one that says if you want me in your life, prove to me you deserve to have me around. My attitude is shifting to one that says I will give all I've got, but only if you do the same. My attitude is shifting to one that says I'm not chasing you, but I'm not turning my back on you either. My attitude is shifting to one that says if you can't be here for me when I'm hurting and I need you, don't expect me to jump when you're ready to re-engage. Maybe I will and maybe I won't. It's my decision. My attitude is shifting to one that says only I get to define me, and if you don't like that definition, well, no one says you have to...
Yeah, those of you who knew me in college and haven't seen me in years, are saying "Huh? That's always been your attitude."
But the truth is I pushed that attitude down deep in an effort to be "perfect" or at least to fit other people's image of the "perfect" me. I became what I despised, someone willing to deny herself in order to keep peace. I gave up thinking I even had the right to what I wanted in life. I gave up thinking I could do this or that or the other just because someone else voiced a negative opinion about how I did something. Well, no more... My way may not be your way, but if it works it still counts. It it doesn't work, then I'll learn and move on. If I need your help, I'll ask. And when I say help - I mean help. Don't take over. I'm an intelligent, capable, attractive woman, and I'd advise you not to forget it.
Oh, and if I feel like crying, I'm going to cry. It's not a sign of weakness, and it's not a manipulation. They're tears, and they serve as a release of emotion. Get over it.
If I want to laugh, I'm going to laugh. I don't care if you get the joke or not. It isn't about you.
I've written a lot of poems about the struggle to grow into the person one is meant to be. My poems encompass losing one's self, pretending to be someone "better" by someone else's definition, the events in life that define who one is, and embracing one's true self. I've compiled a number of these poems into my upcoming book of poetry, Reflections in Silhouette, in hopes others will find them inspiring and encouraging while on the journey to grow into their true selves!
This is my life, and, guess what, you're a part of it because I choose for you to be. I can change my mind at any time. I don't say that to make you feel insecure. I only want to make sure you know that I know I am enough on my own; however, I am better when surrounded by people who love me, lift me up, inspire me, and cherish me and allow me to do the same for them.
So, that's the way it's going to be from this day forward.
Yeah, I like this attitude. It suits me...
So like Patti LaBelle sang in the 1980s, I've got a new attitude. Or maybe I've got a new old attitude... Either way, this is what I've got to offer. Like it or don't, it's your choice.
T. L. Cooper grew up on a farm in Tollesboro, Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Kentucky University. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared online, in books, and in magazines. Her published work includes a novel, All She Ever Wanted and four books of poetry. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, golf, and traveling. Currently, she resides in Albany, Oregon.