For one reason or another, I’ve spent the last couple days mulling over why I don’t listen to people very well. To be real with you, I’ve kind of been like this for as long as I have been conscious. Here are a couple examples:
- As a young child, I was basically told by a teacher that I would never get anywhere in life, much less graduate from high school. (Long story–I later learned she told my parents the same thing). I didn’t listen to her. I remember thinking something along the lines that I don’t have to believe what this person is telling me, and rightly so. Perhaps this isn’t the best example, but I think as a young person being told something like that can become pretty damn debilitating to someone, if you let it. And maybe i am being a uncaring hardass by putting it that way, because I do know a child is very vulnerable to suggestions, but I am just very stubborn. I just chose not to believe her.
- If someone says that I cannot do [insert activity here], I often do it anyway. For example, if someone says I cannot have one more drink I’ll be like puhleeze, and order one more drink. And then drink it quickly. Right in front of them. For effect. And because I can.
But the question I have been asking myself is why. Why do I not listen to people sometimes? Sure, I do listen to people more often than not, I think, or at least I think I do. As a graduate student, I have to follow directions. As a teacher, I have to follow university and department protocols. As a grant writer, I have to carefully follow funder’s requests. I do these things. I have deadlines. I meet them. But all the same, there is this strong part of me that says IDGAF all in bold, harsh language.
I know that sounds angry in tone, and sometimes it is. But mostly I am testing the response, or I want to find out mistakes for myself. I don’t always trust (in) your expertise because you are different and handle things differently than I do and goddamn, I will do it my own way whether you like it or not. And maybe, I do it because I know you won’t like it and that just might make you a little mad. Just a little. Just enough to get your attention. Along with this, I am also stubborn. I am stubborn to a point it isn’t even helpful for me to be stubborn sometimes. My stubbornness, actually, is something that I think might be genetic since it seems to run in my family, like my stature and my eventual hearing loss that has already started to crop up in my early 30s. I think stubbornness is built into the brains of everyone in my family. (Of course, this isn’t true. It is a total learned behavior.)
I also started to consider that idea that maybe I just think that I am above the law, in one way or another, but decided that no, that wasn’t true. The rules, as much as I sometimes despise them, still apply to me. It makes no sense that they wouldn’t apply to me. And when it comes to where I am in life (whatever that means), I think I am barely just keeping up with everyone else, because as a Millennial, I have been taught that not even good is good enough. Why have the medium size fries when you can have the large? Why not get the combo meal? Honestly, society has taught millennials that they/we aren’t good enough and need to do more and while at it, why not take this unpaid internship and do some good work for us and prove that you are not lazy slouches.
I think there is just a deep part of me that thrives on rebellion, in whatever form it is in. Even if it is a quiet rebellion where I subtly moved the chess piece when you weren’t looking and when it wasn’t my turn. When you finally notice, you just see me there, polite and smiling, and asking you about your day. It sounds a little passive-aggressive, but I am midwestern, so I’ll take that charge. But so far, this thriving on rebellion is the best reason I have come up with, considering all the other possibilities I have so far considered. And quiet rebellion is, honestly, what helps me get through the day.