In our communications class, the instructor told us that in her massage practice, she presents herself as a blank canvas to her clients. She does not speak about her beliefs and she doesn’t share her personal life (apart from talking about her kids) with anyone. She chooses to wear all black and she tries to stay as neutral in all she says and does as possible. We had a discussion about this in class. My comment was this is a good idea. Sharing with people ones insights or telling folks about yourself gives others more opportunity to form opinions about you and judge. My instructor said other folk’s judgements didn’t bother her, which is awesome. I wish I could feel that same freedom. People’s negative opinions about me do kinda get to me. Perhaps it’s yet another example of diminished confidence in myself. Yet another thing to address on my long list of self improvement goals.
I’ve been thinking a lot about feeling judged and being judged. I’ve felt indirectly judged since I started school. Going into the massage field, I knew I’d come across some opinionated people who had a different ideas than me. Differences make the world interesting and I welcome them. However, I was not prepared for the continual onslaught of strong opinions coming from both students and instructors. Never before have I felt that every opening conversation was started to see which side of the argument you were on. I feel like at this point, this post is makes me sound like a little snowflake/pansy for being in a new environment. I feel I must explain further, because I am not a pansy or a snowflake. Allow me to tell you a bit about myself instead.
I am not vegan. I’m not vegetarian. I do not buy organic. I eat gluten. I eat peanuts and peanut butter. I sometimes drink soy milk. I use single use plastics still and I also use a microwave. I use sunblock because I am pasty white and hate sunburns. I get my vaccines and I vaccinated my children when they were young. I go to the doctor for annual check ups, even if nothing is wrong. I don’t take vitamins anymore but I am trying to add veggies to my diet more often. I take medicine, prescribed by a doctor, for my high blood pressure. I have tried using “natural” deodorant (for the past 8 months) and it gives me a rash so I’m returning to the “bad” stuff. I am not afraid of traditional cleaners and I like the smell of bleach wipes. I believe every aspect of life needs balance which includes work and play. Too heavy on one side or the other causes problems. Sweets and alcohol won’t kill me if both stay in moderation. I don’t think modern science has all the answers but I don’t see it as an evil to be feared. Again, every aspect in balance. I do not believe in “cures” and become super skeptical when someone tells me about them. I keep a healthy level of skepticism about a lot of things and if something seems too easy, too perfect or too good to be true. I imagine it is. I consider myself curious and open minded but my open mindedness does not mean I agree with you.
All of the facts about me I’ve mentioned here have been an opinion shared or a strong idea mentioned/debated by someone at school. I have my opinions about things just like anyone else but I don’t give a shit if someone has a different idea than me. If they do, fabulous! It keeps the world interesting. What I do take issue with is feeling like any interaction could turn into a debate. I take issue with not having my “wrong” ideas respected. I did not come to this school to argue or change minds. I came to learn about massage, the body and about how the body works. Everyday has felt like an exercise in avoiding conflict. It’s been easier to keep my mouth shut and be that blank canvas for others to project their opinions. My silence can be viewed as agreement if as long as the conversation is quickly dropped. I don’t have the strength or mental energy to argue. I despise confrontation and I have learned to choose my battles wisely.
My main goal when starting school was to blend so I would not be a target. I didn’t want to be attacked for having a difference of opinion or an unpopular opinion. I’ve been managing and holding all of this in for the past 8 months. I was unable to articulate exactly what I was feeling because I hadn’t found the words nor had I taken the space to reflect upon my discomfort. I feel like I became that blank canvas as a defence mechanism and it’s mostly worked. I no longer feel like being the blank canvas because it’s not true to who I am.
In our communications classes we’ve learned to soften our words, we’ve learned to use “I” statements instead words of blanket assumption. I have learned to be more vulnerable, just not completely so. My silence about controversial topics might have been taken as “agreement” when I have not agreed. I feel I have betrayed myself in order to fit in and be accepted and for that I am disappointed in myself. I haven’t wanted to share in circle for a while now, because I have felt this strong indirect judgement. Why? Because I know I am the minority in this group. I’ve been told to use my voice several times this past week. Tomorrow, I think I’m going to try and share my thoughts.