Rigid. Cold. Structured. No gray area. OCD. Type A. Controlling. Psycho. Anal. Analytical. Uncompromising. Assertive. Aggressive. Unimaginative. Bitchy.
At different intervals of my life, I have been called all of the above. When I was younger, I came to accept these definitions of me and internalized them as being something bad. I set out to change myself so others would think of me as “carefree” and a “free spirit”, because I thought that would be better since it was the opposite of who I was. Try as I might to be un-rigid, unstructured, un-aggressive, un-bitchy, or un-psycho, I could never fully un. I became down on myself and would hide the true aspects of myself that I enjoyed about me, but seemed to piss others off. Finally, I snapped. Slowly, and over a long period of time. Because snapping doesn’t have to happen instantaneously. Me putting every ounce of energy into un-being all of the above turned me over aggressive, overly rigid, overly controlling. That’s what you get when you are not who you are, struggle and suffering. You start to grasp too hard at controlling a personality that you are not, and don’t really know how to be because it isn’t you. Then you inevitably get mad that you can’t just be yourself. It’s a never ending cycle and if you are fighting to be someone that you are not, you are fighting a losing battle.
Once I sat down to think why I got so much resistance from others when I was originally just being myself and doing what came natural to me, I had to come to the conclusion that if I was only acting out of an innate sense of self, then in these particular instances it wasn’t me. It was the others. It seemed to me that every single person that had chastised me, had done so in an instance where I was unwilling to accept something that they held personal. Be it an idea, or a belief, or them as a person. In instances where I was called “uncompromising”, it was because I was unwilling to accept bullshit behavior. In instances where I was called “bitchy”, I had stuck up for myself or others. In instances where I was called “structured” it was by someone that led their life willy-nilly style and had all of the drama and troubles that the world can give you when you don’t know who you are or where you are going and act without thought for consequences. This is the the thing about self evaluation, not every time do you find that it is you that was the problem. Sometimes it just really isn’t you. It’s them.
The world is a magnificent blend of personalities. We may find others like us,but no one is exactly the same. While there must be the nomads that live day to day without ever putting down roots, there are others who’s charge it is to help establish and keep order. While there are those that are here to test limits and whereby teach us where the “holes in the fence is”, there must be those that must be uncompromising when it comes to ethics. The true definition of rigid is exacting, through, rigorous. Don’t you want that person as your doctor, your accountant, inspecting your food, or taking care of your kids? It is just like day and night, one simply cannot exist without the other. For me personally, I like the stick up my ass. I get shit done. I help others get shit done. The shit that I get done in one day others don’t accomplish in one week. I do it orderly, thoroughly, thoughtfully, and on purpose. And if it isn’t done, it’s because I don’t think that it’s time to do it. Through much trial and error, I have come to rely on my intuition to guide me to do things. This is what I mean by thoughtfully and on purpose. Knowing that I am once again only relying on my innate sense of self to accomplish things – a sense that we all have and must cultivate on our own as individuals – helps me stand firm in the presence of resistance.
Those that get upset with me are usually upset by the contrast that I provide for them. I must mirror for them what they are not doing. Or that they want to do something but don’t know what. However, it works both ways. I can think of a few times where I was upset at the unstructured people because it looked like they were having more fun. While I was sweating over dotting i’s and crossing t’s, the unstructured where whooping it up daily. One time I decided to give it all up and live like them. Then I realized their kind of fun is the kind that eventually catches up to you, and this Type A uncompromising bitch doesn’t like loose ends. All I got out of the ordeal was that realization, a late fee on a credit card, and a totaled car. The top three things that my OCD self never would let happen. Lesson learned.
When people attack you when you are being who you really are, ignore them. They know not what they do. Being comfortable with yourself means being comfortable with you when others are not comfortable with you. It took a while for me to accept not only who I am and my personality, it also took me awhile to accept those who’s feathers I ruffled. I used to try and change them. Help them see it my way. Not only is that not useful, it’s unfair to assume that the way that we are is the way that everyone should be. It’s all a dance of balance. We can all learn from one another. The less that we fight and attempt to change others, the more information that we can gain from them to help ourselves. I have learned from being among a truly cold person, who’s daily structure I admired, that I can keep the structure part, but allow some emotional investment into people.
How to deal with the “rigidality”
For those that have rigid people in their lives, I agree that they require extra patience. But I challenge you to look deeply about what exactly steams your collar over them. Is it because they never miss a deadline or an appointment and you’re constantly behind the clock? Is it because they sometimes blow off girls/guys night to get tax receipts in order? Then ask that person to help you find a way to organize yourself in a way that works for you. Rigid people are the authority on organizing and they love to talk about it. The only thing that they love more, is actually helping others get organized.
What if it is something deeper like they won’t let you in emotionally? Bear in mind that most rigid people who won’t let others “in”, lack an ability to be vulnerable. Rigid people like stability and structure. More than likely they have been let down due to their impossibly high standards. As a result, they have enacted strict boundaries. You can help the rigid person by teaching them that not all of life is a checklist. It is ok to be a tad late to say, a Sunday brunch than a neurosurgeon consult. They need help in learning that not everything is serious. And while they do need more practice in the lighten up arena, rigid people cannot turn their rigid personality, or “rigidality”, on and off. Maybe you can’t always be punctual, but always be reliable with this personality. A rigid person and a not so rigid person can be the yin and the yang when both accept each other.
If you would like to see my new personal journey where I take all that I have written here and put it into action, please check out my second chapter here.
❤ this post is dedicated to my Michael. The definite ying to this rigid yang.