Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 11/5/2009 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - Stubborn Is as Stubborn Does

Martha's Big Adventure -- Stubborn Is as Stubborn Does

By Martha Randolph Carr

Stubborn is one of those words we throw at people when we aren't getting our way. It's shorthand for saying to someone: you just aren't doing what I demand. But instead of being honest, we set out to wound and dig in a little because being right has become that important.

In this lifetime I've been stuck on the side of being called stubborn most of the time. It happened more often when I was small and growing up in a chaotic and confusing household.

In a situation where the adults are constantly changing the rules, sometimes it pays off as a kid to dig in and insist on sticking to whatever seems like the sanest strategy. However, having that kind of gumption when you're under four feet tall comes with that hairy label of being obstinate.

There were also plenty of times as a teenager during the 1970's and the height of the women's movement that men, young and old, pointed their finger at me, screwed up their face and practically spit as they hurled that word at me again. Stubborn.

I just didn't understand why my dreams had no value or were seen as threatening to anyone else.

Young men in the Deep South where I was going to college in 1979 said that I had way too many opinions of my own. I'd try to keep my big yap shut for the sake of getting asked to Homecoming but inevitably some real piece of me slipped out and that was the end of that boyfriend.

The thought that would go through my head was you'd have to be dead to have no opinions.

The whole thing made me feel like I was being groomed to fit a role instead of being liked for who I showed up as and any definitions I was holding today also seemed open to change.

A life well-lived is full of new awareness and that comes with yet more new opinions and another way of seeing things. A role would have boxed me in or at the least left me waiting for someone else to tell me it was okay to think something else. What a waste of a long life.

There is a price tag for speaking up though and it comes when some people choose to go elsewhere for company. However, that's a blessing in disguise because it means that those who really would have never liked me move along more quickly. No one is there under false pretenses.

That also means that space was left available for everyone who likes what they see and decides to stay. These are the relationships that grow the deepest roots and can be called upon when we are at our weakest, no longer able to put on a brave front. They already know who we are, are aware that human beings fluctuate and have no demands about what feelings or opinions are going to be acceptable.

In my own case they are the ones who've cheered me on when most everyone else said it was going to be impossible to become a syndicated columnist. They sat next to me for hours on end when my father died and the house was sold out from underneath me. And they followed my lead moment by moment as I dealt with not one, but two bouts of malignant melanoma. They also swear they're coming to my beginner guitar recital in December.

Imagine if I had decided to give in to all of those early admonitions and stayed silent, never sharing an opinion that gave a glimpse into the real me. I imagine my constant thought would have been you might not like me if you really knew me.

Instead, it's quite the opposite and it's been a very long time since anyone who I'd call a friend has tried to plaster me with labels of any kind. More adventures to follow.

Martha's Big Adventure is coming to the web. Visit www.marthasbigadventure.com and sign up for more. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.

© 2009 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com. Download Martha Randolph Carr's black and white mug shot photo.

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