I want to learn all I can, live as wisely as I can, and savor every moment on the journey.
Dignity is something I’ve longed for wistfully for a few years now, but only recently have I begun to taste its sweetness.
I was raised in a culture saturated by hyper-friendliness, over-sharing in rushes toward casual intimacy, and anxiety to make sure everyone felt equal and at ease.
But, I’ve come to find out, I am naturally an extreme introvert with a tendency toward paranoia that people are trying to know everything about me and, thus, to suck the life out of me. In other words, I have a deep need for privacy. My therapist used to talk with me about having personal “boundaries”; I could not see at the time how absolutely critical boundaries are for my peace of mind.
But now I’ve found the missing key. What I want—what I need—is to be, despite my culture and long-ingrained habits, a woman who has grace, dignity, and poise when I’m talking to people. I don’t mean haughtiness or stiffness—dignity taken to the extreme—but a more moderate kind of warm grace in which I’m conscious of what is proper and right for me to do and say.
It’s the realization that I can be that kind of woman that’s changing everything.
For example, at work when I’m helping a customer and I remember this idea of dignity, I feel a shift inside from annoyed reluctance to a sense of fulfilling a temporary duty that I can handle graciously. I also feel a shift from social anxiety to calm confidence that I am perfectly safe, because dignity creates some protective distance between myself and the situation. I feel like all my cards aren’t out on the table, but only the ones that need to be there. It’s amazing and so freeing! I’m sure everyone else appreciates this change, too; I’ve been so much more consistently nice and professional lately than I’ve ever been at work.
I can imagine other people from other cultures having the opposite problem, of being raised in a world that required them to be proper and dignified all the time and then growing up to realize their need for transparency and abandon. But transparency and abandon are what I’ve always known, and now I understand that that way of being just doesn’t work for me.
It will take time and practice to cultivate this new habit of dignity in my life, but I’m so excited to continue reaping the rewards of this discovery!