I have finally figured out that I am not always right and that I am ok with not always being right.  This is not an easy thing to accept; in fact, aside from accepting that I am never going to be met with any face other than my own when I look in the mirror each morning, this is one of the hardest things I had to learn.  I cannot always be right and, furthermore, at times I will be tremendously wrong.

I almost relish saying this because it takes a lot of pressure off me.  If I am not always right and I am willing to accept this, I will not always have to be the person everyone turns to when crap hits anything that rotates. 

My first suspicion of being wrong came on my ninth birthday when my mother, wanting to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, bought me a pair of panty hose.  I suppose she expected me to be sophisticated enough to know what they were for, and she supposed incorrectly.  I knew what hose were, but I had never seen them attached to anything other than a bank robber’s head in movies or TV shows.  The darned things, of course, did not have instructions. 

Since English is not my vernacular, I had to work my way through the compound word and figured hose obviously did not mean the thing used in other people’s houses to water the lawn (our lawn was watered by that nifty and sometimes unpredictable thing called “rain”) so it must be what Errol Flynn was wearing in Robin Hood.   The panty part, of course, was self-explanatory.   As part of the silk-purse-out-of-sow’s-ear deal, my mother had also provided me with a dress which, in hindsight, I was right to detest.  I look at the pictures now and I wonder why, of all the colors in this world, she would pick green for me…but that’s beside the point.

I had never been more uncomfortable in my life, and I had hung by suspender-straps from trees while someone came to the rescue with a ladder.  I had bounced my way down a long flight of stairs while sitting in a metal tub.  I had slept on the floor of the marble-tiled balcony just to prove that I would’ve made a good pioneer.  The pantyhose were torture…the dress was salt on the wound.    People felt compelled to point out how nice I looked…people were lying.  I looked like a monkey wearing a tutu.

Leave it, of course, to my older sister (oh, so sophisticated she) to be the one who pointed out that I’d taken the whole pantyhose thing a little too literally.  As I leapt and bounced towards the table where my birthday cake sat, waiting for me to blow candles and be publicly recognized as the honoree, my sister (soon to be sixteen) announced to all who were there “what made you think you didn’t need to wear panties with pantyhose????” followed by a ha ha ha ha ha that I heard throughout the rest of my childhood and all of my adolescence.

So I wasn’t right in my interpretation of this garment’s name…I was too young to accept that I’d eventually get over the humiliation.  For the next 37 years I have flatly refused to celebrate my birthday because, quite frankly, the attention I was receiving that day made the humiliation even worse.  From this particular incident I learned to read instructions if there were any, and to ask questions if there weren’t instructions. 

This, however, does not guarantee that I’m going to be right.  I can research everything from here to the ends of the Earth and I will still find a way to put my foot (up to the thigh) in it from time to time.  The difference is that now I actually don’t berate myself or anyone else for having made a mistake.

Many years ago I said yes to the wrong guy because the right guy didn’t ask.  I know that, in many ways, this was a catastrophic mistake.  At the time I decided to convince myself that I was not making a mistake, that I was fighting for…true love?  Romance!  Yes, I was figthing for Romance!  With a capital R!  I could not possibly be making a mistake because…because I was me and I don’t make mistakes.

The day that marriage ended (with a combination of “fizzle” and “the little bit of plastic we can’t quite get rid off when we tear the tags off new clothes”) I was SO ANGRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I wasn’t angry he left.  I wasn’t angry that he felt “meh!” about me (yes, he used “meh!” after 10 and a half years)…I was angry that I deserved “meh!” because I had made a mistake and I had clung to it out of sheer stubbornness.  I didn’t want to run home to mom and dad (or whichever one of them was there because once I married THAT relationship fizzled!) to say “I was WRONG!”  I am sure they would’ve opened a bottle of champagne and embraced like the Armistice had just been signed.

To get here I had to learn I can’t always be right and I had to admit that I don’t always want to be right.  I LIKE being right, but now I actually put in some work to BE right.  There is something liberating about being able to say “you know what?  I have NO idea how to answer that question.  Let me look it up and I’ll get back to you.”  There is something liberating about getting older and still wondering if there’s anything I’d like to try that I’ve said in the past “no, that doesn’t interest me.” 

It is the mistakes that we learn from, not the things we get right the first time…those make us arrogant.  And to get here, I had to get humble first…now, I just feel very lucky and I appreciate things a lot more.

 

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