Lessons from walking

One of the big issues around social interaction, for me, has always been how much compromise is required in order to fit. How much of me will it be necessary to hide? How much will I have to tolerate that I find difficult, uncomfortable, even painful? How much humiliation will I have to endure? How is the trade off going to work here and what’s the cost going to be, and can I sustain it?

As illustration, I love walking and there have along the way been opportunities to walk with various people. However, there are a few things that make me a less than perfect walker – poor depth perception and lack of physical confidence mean I struggle on rough terrain. Some days I am stiff and achy such that walking is hard work. Other people are a lot fitter than me. So in some situations, walking with people has required me to hide what I was struggling with, face terrain I found alarming, hold paces I found uncomfortable and endure being humiliated over anything I found difficult. Forever embarrassed, struggling to keep up and not even feeling it was ok to name the problem for fear of further ridicule, or outright rejection. If you won’t compromise to fit in, they might not take you with them.

Then there are the other walking experiences, with people who are happy to take things gently, and if I struggle, offer help. That’s a whole other world, and one I did not grasp even existed until these last few years. That it is possible to find people who like having me around such that some compromise can flow the other way, is a revelation. If I struggle, the pace can drop to help me manage. My shortcomings cease to be a source of embarrassment. Rather than feeling like a barely tolerated extra, I get to feel like part of the tribe.

From as far back as I can remember, my impression was that in all situations I would have to obfuscate my inadequacies and try very hard in order to fit. I would have to quietly accept whatever was asked of me, or done to me, while trying not to ask for anything or cause anyone else any discomfort whatsoever. I never had any sense that there was a place that belonged to me, just that with enough effort, it might be possible to be tolerated. It’s a belief that has coloured all of my relationships and left me vulnerable. With that belief set, it has been very easy to be at the mercy of people who were less than kind, while feeling grateful that they bothered with me at all.

There are plenty of people for whom I am not good enough. I get to hear about it, when I seem too… difficult. Inconvenient. Attention seeking drama queen, melodramatic, unreasonable, demanding… I’ve had plenty of that along the way. I’ve come to the simple conclusion that this is fine – other people are entitled to feel that way, and anyone who dislikes how I am is not obliged to interact with me. (I wonder what it says about the ones who dislike and yet want me to stay around?) I don’t need everyone to like me. So long as there are people to walk with who do not mind my downhill pace on uneven paths, I do not have to walk with people who find me too difficult.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “Lessons from walking

  • Helen and John

    Nimue, I’d walk with you anytime ! It’s an honour… H

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I used to do a lot of walking something of one who strides along at some speed. But most of the time I walked along and preferred it that way. At this point walking is somewhat rare as now it requires a walker and a two mile walk is my limit and perhaps soon will not be possible. But such is life. I used to wear out shoes at an alarming rate. Now my boots have been with me for a decade.

  • cerene

    I realized a few years ago I couldn’t be everybody’s flavor of the month and that I didn’t want to be. There were just too many of them and not enough of me. I couldn’t keep spreading myself thin trying to please people while dishonoring myself in the process. So I made a change: I eliminated people that didn’t celebrate me and I surrounded myself with people that appreciated what I had to bring to the table. When I started being honest about who I was, I stopped having to worry about keeping up the facade of who I thought people wanted me to be. When the naysayers started speaking up, I walked away – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Now I live in a world where all my faults are known and my assets are celebrated. It’s an amazing world to live in and I wouldn’t go back to justifying and rationalizing my existence for anything or anyone. Every puzzle piece fits perfectly somewhere. I’m glad you’re finding out where you fit too.

    • Nimue Brown

      That’s an inspiring story, thank you for sharing. I hope to get to a similar sort of place, able to be myself, and to mostly be with people who like that. I’m trending the right way, definitely.

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