I don’t know when it started… BUT SOMEWHERE in my life experiences; it became VERY VERY important to me to never let a challenge pass me by. To never back down when presented with an ultimatum, real or imagined. If my mind sensed the slightest inclination of the speaker to say something that I COULD NOT DO (either because I was too young, too old, too weak, too short, a woman, not experienced, etc), it was just as potent as those DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU threats you see in The Christmas Story. Mind you, no one actually said to me in just that way, or probably even meant it, but it is what my inner being HEARD. And when THAT happens, it is like a switch flips in me that begins the adrenaline pumping, vein pounding, attitude shifting determination that throws all other thoughts into minor insignificance.
There were moments while teaching Jr. High, when my resolve was so strong internally when it came to discipline and consequences with my students I felt like an impenetrable fortress. I had my days of caving in like any GOOD teacher would, but I also remember those days of standing with my arms mentally crossed displaying out-and-out defiance refusing to budge from the prescribed consequence for the next rule breaker.
I had such a moment at work the other day that reminded me of my teaching days. A co-worker was attempting to distract me because we did not agree on how I was working on a project. But they made the fatal mistake of saying they could “out annoy” me. It was in that moment I thought of one of my favorite interview answers (usually asked in reference to ability to handle difficult learners or my patience level): “I taught Jr. High, there isn’t much I can’t work through.” And there it was, the attitude of defiance. The dare beneath the surface… So I embraced it as such and tested myself. Could I genuinely out last this person, could I persevere through this juvenile taunting and annoying? And what do you know 2.5hrs later I DID!!! Now don’t get me wrong, this silly two-hour game tested my skills (and my patience) at getting work done despite being distracted, hurt, annoyed, frustrated, bewildered, bothered, etc, etc. But I was determined to not give in, I was determined to not let it stop me from what I was doing.
And just like that, I found something I thought I had lost. I rediscovered a part of me that I have been desperately missing. Although for miraculous reasons, did not realize was gone. It is a part of me that has always been there, but for some life rationalizing reason, I locked it away hidden. But here it was, like brand new piece of jewelry I forgot I had. And now that I have found it, it is not leaving my neck for any reason what so ever. It’s mine and its shiny and I am going to keep it!!!