I fucking hate toxic positivity.
“Keep it above the line…”, I was told.
“Let people speak for themselves”.
“Your problem is you care”.
“Not everyone feels like you”.
We don’t want to hear anything bad about ourselves or what we’re doing. No-one else is brave enough to speak up, and that’s the way we like it. We don’t understand your suggestions or concerns, you’re looking at it all wrong. We have lulled the others into a false sense of security and you are threatening the status quo.
I could be a team player, I could play between the lines when it made sense, I could even smile on cue. But I couldn’t fucking tolerate pretending everything was fine when it fucking wasn’t. I was done with that.
For me, stepping over, fully, from good girl to wild woman, was the moment I completely rejected the notion that I had to be right and liked and approved of by most of the people most of the time. Fuck it. Fuck them. Fuck everyone.
Whatever. I went the distance, I stepped up, I stepped in and it still wasn’t good enough??? I am done settling.I’m done taking orders from people who wont step into the arena.
I bring my best. I learn, I grow.
I have had enough feedback in my life, in so many different forms, to understand well enough now how I am seen, in all the roles I have played. Role identity is not always a helpful concept, another tool for categorising and fragmenting our selves. But being able to assign feedback to a certain role is useful. If the time comes that feedback suggests this role is no longer serving you, having the ability to release yourself from that identity, by ‘retiring’ the role, is a freedom many forget they have.
When you can step away from (or out of) the norms and expectations of certain role identities you have adopted, you can start to see where there is good fit and where there may be potential dissonance. This is hard. It is very confronting and, if you really acknowledge what you learn, you can’t then ignore what you’ve seen.
Quite a few years ago now, I did a leadership identity exercise as part of a course and had to ask the people who knew me best at the time, when they believed I was at my best. They all said pretty much the same thing. The people around me see me at my best when I am helping other people be at their best.
I fucking hated that.
The tantrum was real.
I didn’t want to be always using my energy to help others. When did I get to finally help myself? When was it my turn to love me?
It took me a long time to fully realise two things:
- Loving others is loving yourself; and
- I could choose to start loving me any time, whenever I wanted.
But the thing about keeping it ‘above the line’ is that you never talk about the stuff that needs to be talked about. You never get to demonstrate your ability to love and accept unconditionally, or to experience unconditional love. And you don’t get all the feedback about yourself that you need to learn and grown as a human being.
Toxic positivity and a culture of ‘politeness’, usually masks an underlying culture of blame.
Just keep smiling and do your job.
I’m just going to keep tolerating you because that’s the polite thing to do.
As a woman I have had to learn the hardest of ways, that it is not safe to be polite. Setting boundaries, saying ‘no’, and asking to have your needs met can’t always be done with a courteous ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Particularly in a society where the social norm, is for women to serve men.
I get your dinner.
I wash your clothes.
I let you think you’re right.
And now look at the fucking mess we’re in.
And so now I’m mad. Now the wild woman surfaces.
The crone doesn’t mind if you think she’s crazy. The maiden has been set free. The child is safe and happy. And the wild woman dances with glee.
The wild woman knows that it is no longer safe to keep it ‘above the line’, it’s time for the difficult conversations, and that it’s time for us to acknowledge that ‘polite’, ‘and professional’ are just sanitised, construed, inauthentic half-versions of ourselves.
To keep the peace, to not rock the boat; it’s simply enabling the bullshit to go on.
To be a wild woman is to speak your mind, to use your voice, your power, to serve and protect what you love, to stand your ground or move into another space, whatever sets you free.
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