“Maybe if you weren’t so closed off and boxed in, you could just enjoy the moment.” He said.
I won’t tell you what proceeded this statement because it may not be embarrassing to the person but, it is definitely embarrassing to me. I got over the embarrassment quickly because the words “closed off and boxed in” is what cut me deep. Why? I am glad you asked.
I was very shy growing up. I also grew up in a home that was more reserved based on Christianity and simply being taught manners that went beyond “Yes ma’am and No sir.” We were taught how to conduct ourselves in public to the best of my parents ability. And there were certain things I learned on my own and through others throughout my life in certain settings and culturally. Some things I learned by error and embarrassment. There are things I had to “unlearn” but also continue to do. In some countries, eating with your hands in considered a loving thing to do. It’s connecting with food. For the African American, the colonizers deemed many of our practices “uncivilized” instead of simply different culturally. Funny how this thought pattern continues to foster in American thinking.
Back to “closed off and boxed in” and why it deeply hurt my feelings. Growing up in a diverse neighborhood (different financial statuses and classes of people) and going to different schools outside of my neighborhood, often got me labeled as, “stuck up” and later relabeled as “bougie”. My natural shyness and quietness didn’t help. I never was a wild child in the sense of being adventurous like skipping school, doing drugs, or fighting. I never cared for loudness as it was often too loud in my home with complaints and arguing. BUT it was also loud with laughter and sibling shenanigans. I also grew up in a loving, protective, and caring neighborhood.
But many times in school and in other neighborhoods, in other family dynamics (cousins), I was often told I was too shy. Too quiet. Too stuck up. Too bougie. I must think I am all that. I must think I am better than everyone else. I often wondered “What did I do?” “What did I do wrong?” I could never understand what was so wrong about being who I was. Let me tell you as I am sure you must know, it’s still the same way in adulthood. A few years ago I was told by a classmate, “I was too quiet for her.” Well guess what? “She’s too loud for me” but, I never said that to her because I allow her to be who she is. I just want the same respect. Some people are loud. Some people are quiet. It is who they are. They did nothing wrong.
But when you start to tell me that poor manners, lack of respect for others feelings and space, being obnoxiously loud and rude, that not caring about people’s property, or not having self respect for yourself and others is being “closed off and boxed in”, bougie, stuck up, well I vehemently disagree. If you tell me that because I am unwilling to bungie jump, I am not adventurous enough, then screw you. It’s more about my level of adventure and risk. I have been told I am not spontaneous because I didn’t want to take the road less traveled into some dark deep woods. I am spontaneous. Just not venture off into “don’t go there because it’s not safe for Americans” spontaneous.
It hurt my feelings because it made me feel as if something was wrong with me. Weird because you try new foods and cultures. Weird. Because you’re a black girl that paints abstract art. Weird because you want to attend things other than movies and chain restaurants. Weird. You’re black and you enjoy…history. Weird. You only have ONE child. It hurt my feelings because I felt rejected.
I really had to work at NOT feeling so hurt about what was said to me and my “sensitive ass” as that has also been said to me. I guess they never considered they may be an “insensitive ass”.
You are weird = You are unique. One of a kind.
You are closed off and boxed in = You are sophisticated.
You are too quiet = I am too quiet for you. I am me. I like quiet.
You are not adventurous/spontaneous enough = “to you”. You for got to add, to you.
You are bougie = Yes. I am “hood” and “classy”. Yes. I have been exposed to things, places, cultures, outside of my immediate neighborhood. Yes. I like the finer things in life. Yes, I like a fried bologna sandwich and I also enjoy an upscale fancy smancy restaurant overlooking the city. Yes I may go to war and pray afterwards. You’re welcome.
You are stuck up = Yes. I am sometimes prim and proper. I know how to conduct myself in many circles. I am diverse. I eat with silverware. I’ll eat with my hands in cultures where that is the norm. I don’t pile my plate up at buffets because it’s a buffet and I can always go back and get more. I don’t do loud and public drunkenness (okay maybe in Vegas lol). I think about my attire and if it’s appropriate for the occasion. Yes. I am stuck up.
I don’t think I am better than anyone else. They probably just “think” that I “think” I am better than others based on their own feelings of inadequacies or perceived thoughts about me because I do things different. Perception of yourself and how a few see you doesn’t matter if their perception contradicts who you are. Am I friendly? By enlarge, yes. Am I loving? By enlarge, yes. Am helpful? By enlarge, yes. So, DON’T forgive me if I am sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, don’t get loud in quiet settings, don’t pick my teeth at the table with a straw, slaps bones (play dominoes) at the cookout but, will try croquet at Martha’s Vineyard, drink sweet tea from a mason jar and turn my pinky finger up with tea and tea cakes. Please, DON’T forgive me if I try my best to do right and improve myself. I love me some me.
~Closed Off and Boxed In