Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Gentle Art Of Saying F**k You

A Tiny Pitrate - The Gentle Art Of Saying F*ck YouDr. Martin Luther King said "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it's right". And I’ve thought about this often and taken comfort in his words, when recently faced with making difficult decisions that were going to impact some of my work.

 

 

 

It’s been a very dichotomous start to my year; on the one hand overdosing on laughter, love and adventures that are the pleasure drugs in my veins, and on the other, a deep chasm of fear in my stomach, because I had to take a strong stance against someone whose actions caused so much hurt and abuse to people who I should have protected more. And the reason for my cowardice- as there is no other word to describe my feebleness- was because I stood to lose something dear to me and important to other people by challenging the culprit and their behavior.

How many times have any of you stood by and allowed someone to be chastised, or humiliated, or seen something unpleasant happen and turned a blind eye because you didn’t ‘want to get involved?’ Or squirmed because you were too paralysed by whatever fear or conditioning you were carrying at the time? Say, for example, if someone was rude to a waiter in your presence, or unfairly berated a colleague in front of yourself and others? Well, to my shame I allowed these behaviours and much more sinister deeds to happen over several weeks, and did nothing at the time to uphold the values I am supposed to live by.

Charlie Chaplin quote

And let me tell you why. Because I was selfish and didn’t want to create problems for myself. I wanted to protect my cosy life and professional position, and I was afraid of the outcome should I express my views. I covered up things and was willfully blind to shameful conducts, and that in itself made me complicit in bullying others and causing misery in their lives. Because if we choose to ignore things that create suffering in people, that makes us as guilty as the perpetrators. Silence is not an excuse. I justified my weakness by kidding myself into thinking that ‘things will improve,’ or making ridiculous allowances for the person’s behavior, such as they were ‘under stress’, or ‘tired.’ Worse still, I thought that if I stuck around I would help to ‘change’ them. Which of course never works. You can’t magically transform someone into being an empathetic human being.

Claudia Avila-Batchelor Cocktail

The main reason I stayed mute was because of the repercussions my actions would have had on innocent parties. But after several sleepless nights I literally looked in the mirror and said to my reflection “what the fuck has happened to you?” And I still can’t quite believe that it took me so long to get a grip of myself and do the right thing. And the reason I’m sharing this with you is because this is a pattern that can be applied to almost any aspect of our lives, and I’ve seen a lot of it in the first few weeks of this year. Maybe it’s the January blues, but in any case I hope that with my words I can help you find the courage it took me too long to find, because I didn’t want to admit to anyone- including myself- that I’d made a huge mistake.

I’m fully aware that at times I’m a walking contradiction and this sometimes makes me have epic internal battles of conscience. My life is a constant polarity of every possible range you can imagine, and in this instance my confident businesswoman was silenced by my sensitive writer. The one that fears confrontation, the one that is over emotional and worries about people liking her. The one I’m constantly picking up off the floor when she has been hurt and is always worried about being ‘good enough’. I’m sure most of us have that insecure scribe lurking inside our heads somewhere. Mine just comes out a lot more than people may realise.

A Tiny Pirate adventure A Tiny Pirate adventure

And that was my conflict. I was scared about doing something, and I was equally afraid to do nothing. And when I think about others in similar and not-so-similar situations, I’m aghast at how many people stay put. They stay out of habit, stay out of fear, they stay out of ignorance or laziness or lack the valor to start over.

Equally they may embark on something- a new job, a new relationship, move to a new place, because they are desperate, afraid or lack the impetus to challenge the path in life that has been set for them, or they have set for themselves, and which may not be quite working out. A sense of obligation is a hugely commendable thing but as soul destroying as a toxic relationship.

In relationships, when desperate people get together they try their hardest to make it work because they are clinging on to eachother like rats in the sinking ship of their lives. They convince themselves and eachother that they are perfect and meant to be together, but the sheen soon becomes dull and flaky when the realisation of their unsuitability dawns on them. This is followed by resentment and a new found desperation to ‘bear it or break it’. No one wins. And everyone loses time.

A Tiny Pirate adventure A Tiny Pirate adventure

This too can be said of a job or business venture. In my case, I allowed my work head to rule over my heart head, and in doing so I hurt people around me more than if I’d acted on my initial gut instinct and not forsaken my moral code. Yet as much as this pains me, I’m glad that I eventually came to my senses when I did, or I would have forever regretted my ineffectiveness. And I think regrets are harder to live with long term, than the short term anxiety I had to endure.

Aged 15 and after long spell of ‘troubled’ education, I was finally allowed on my first ever school trip, skiing in Scotland. I was allocated a bunk in a shared dorm, where a group of the cool girls were in residence. On the third night some were caught with a few army cadets, and by default of being in their room I was also implicated. Given the fact I had been mostly ignored, plus I was hideously unattractive and basically weird, this made for a ridiculous assumption.

Claudia and friends

Nevertheless, I was suspended along with everyone else and had to face my upset mum in spite of protesting my innocence. The headmaster told me he would ‘believe me’ if I told him who had been involved. I said nothing to him and expected the girls to own up but none did, so I had to take an unjustified punishment, and that was my first and last ever school outing. My hopes that one of the girls would do the right thing were shattered, and this very situation popped into my head when, after witnessing yet another toxic onslaught a few weeks ago, I stood by and said nothing because I thought it would escalate things further, and I pathetically wanted to keep out of the firing line. I eventually manned up, but I know that what I felt aged 15 was not dissimilar to what the poor artist I watched being destroyed would have felt. And nothing that anyone can say to me now or in the future will make me feel worse disgust that I’ve felt for myself.

Sometimes the most painful lessons are the ones that hopefully make us into better versions of ourselves. Taking a stand cost me a role I loved, but bought out a determination in me that will not allow me to make the same mistake twice. When I was first learning to snowboard one of my three Musketeers -Jojo -would frequently say to me “if you’re not falling you’re not learning,” and I love that as a metaphor for life.

Snowboarding Drink

The best thing about all of this, is knowing that my loved ones, friends, colleagues and series of adventures and creative inspiration are all still intact. And going through bad decisions has given rise to spectacular ones, and that is why I can recommend following your heart. Always. Open hearts will open doors. Being trapped in something that makes you or others unhappy just closes the opportunity to let joy in because no matter what- dark deeds will always eat away at your soul. And you deserve better!

Doing what is right but which may put you in a difficult situation is always going to be a tough call, but however challenging it may be, after the initial sting the worry will lift. I promise. And you will be able to look back and know that you have nothing to fear, because your integrity is something that should never be compromised. Human beings always leave a trace, and we can make a decision to leave a trail of destruction, or a positive and encouraging path for others to follow.

The Dark Side

I don’t ever want to leave a legacy of negativity or condoned vicious actions, and actually when I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel I just created a new path towards brightness. Because sometimes all we need to say is a loud F*CK YOU, move on and continue to be fabulous. So go for it!

Toodle Pip until next time my brave companions!

Claud
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