As a follow-up to this post, I’d like to let you know that I’ve advanced from writing PRACTICE SHUTTING UP to writing:

Note To Self: Try not to intimidate anyone with your breathing today.

Let me explain.

Sometimes I don’t hear well. It has something to do with standing beneath running jet engines all those years ago. Anyway, when a classmate seated diagonally from me was speaking the other day, I turned to face him so I could be sure to hear what he was saying. I was trying to show that I was paying attention to what he was saying and broke my own rule: Do Not Make Eye Contact.

Anyway, my fellow student interpreted my body language (or my facial expression or my rate of respiration) to mean that I was in opposition to what he was saying and no kidding, put out his hand in a gesture meaning ‘hold on there a minute little woman’ and said, “Wait, hear me out on this.” To which I replied, “I’m just looking at you.” To which the instructor said to my fellow student, “Now you know how I feel when I’m speaking and happen to look over in that direction.” Pointing to me.

Dude, what the hell? I was just breathing. Hence the above note to self the next day.

Don’t get me wrong here. I laughed. The entire class laughed. It was funny. I still thought it was hilarious the following day. Here I am in a group setting, which in and of itself energizes me, and I am struggling, not to censor my comments but to not comment at all.

And not being successful, by the way.

Here’s the deal:

I am a woman. I was born and raised in Alabama. So, I self-actualized inferiority a long time ago. Society made sure of it. The result? I became highly motivated to beat the odds and I think that constantly busting through stereotypes like a bull in a china shop made me the person I am today. To explain how this happened, consider this:

A Foray Into Communication: Are YOU talkin’ to ME?

Sender – The Universe

Receiver – Me

Message – Thrive in a toxic environment or die trying.

Response – Game On!

Then, I received some special high intensity training, or S.H.I.T., early in my career which can be distilled into these few nuggets.

  • Shit rolls downhill
  • If you are warm and happy in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut
  • When you’re tired of the shit, climb out of the pigeon-hole you’ve been put in
  • Eventually you reach higher ground and you don’t give a shit what others say

As much as I believe that I have reached that higher ground, the fact remains that there will always be times when I need to rely on others to accomplish a goal, and so, I press on, laughing at myself, laughing at the reactions I get from others, laughing because no matter how much I try, I cannot escape being who I am.

That’s what passes for progress. 

22 thoughts on “Progress Report

  1. I have to wonder, what part of the brain sent warning signs to the speaker you were about to pounce? What flight or fight instinct kicked in?

    I think personally you are spectacular. Breathing? Really? Well, do not attempt to hold your breath till you turn blue in the face. I am fairly certain this would not be good for you.

  2. artsifrtsy says:

    Gosh Steph, my first impression of you was sheer intimidation, the whole time we were eating you kept breathing! How intimidating! Paleeeeze!

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      I sensed that my breathing was having an impact on your enjoyment of that sammich and that’s why you couldn’t finish eating. HA!

      1. artsifrtsy says:

        Lol – you totally freaked me out. I had to leave the state!

        1. Honie Briggs says:

          You couldn’t get away fast enough, could you? I hope you didn’t have nightmares afterward.

          1. artsifrtsy says:

            I’m in counseling, but I think I’m getting past it.

  3. The Hook says:

    Personally, I think you’re perfect! Don’t go changin’.

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      Perfectly flawed! You are too kind, dear sir.

  4. Some people have expressive faces that don’t wear masks (genetic?). Some people are lucky enough to say everything with the eyes.
    FIne. It’s best everyone know where they stand – makes things easier.
    (But easy to intimidate people – even if you’re not trying)

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      Yeah, I don’t know, I think it’s all in the breathing technique.

  5. unfetteredbs says:

    Game on Fo’ sure!!

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      High Five Hiaku! 🙂

      1. unfetteredbs says:

        I think you should record yourself in class please and share

        1. Honie Briggs says:

          um, no. I have however, considered recording myself giving speeches to the living room furniture.

  6. I love your spirit and the fact that you put fear in men’s hearts–keep up the good work my friend!

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      LouAnn, your comment made me smile. I’m still smiling as I respond to it. I never would have thought of it like that. Fear – all 5 feet 3 inches of me. What is so intimidating about that? It just makes me laugh. Thanks!!

      1. hey, you are not just a pretty face–though you have that going for you too

  7. Wyrd Smythe says:

    (Funny the things we have in common: severe hearing impairment (congenital in my case) and I, too, have had people react to me without my having said a word.)

    If there’s one thing that humans tend to excel at, it’s reading faces. That’s why our new money has larger faces on it: we’re more likely to notice small defects in counterfeit faces. If you’re like me, you wear some of your inner thinking on your face (in all sorts of tiny ways), and people do notice.

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      I’m no poker player that is for certain. I am willing to accept responsibility for my own perceptions, but I think it’s a bit much to be responsible for everyone else’s too. I didn’t sign up for that shit. 🙂

      1. Wyrd Smythe says:

        Totally with ya on that!!

  8. Love this! Great inspiration and being you is more than enough!

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      Much more than enough, it seems. HA!

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