I love tulips. They are lovely and graceful, and so colourful!
My goodness, though, they’re delicate. It doesn’t take much to make a tulip wilt and bend its head to the ground. One might be tempted to think that a flower that needs to have its bulb frozen during winter in order to bloom might be a little more resilient… but apparently not.
I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the people in my circles— not all, but a hefty percentage of them— are like tulips. As long as the environment suits them, they are fine, but when they are unhappy for some reason, they just don’t cope. It doesn’t take much to upset the balance: just do something they find confronting. The more brave and nonconformist the act, the stronger the effect.
Don’t get me wrong: I do like most of the people in my circles.
What I don’t like is having to kowtow to their apparent discomfort about certain things that matter to me, when they demonstrate zero tolerance to who and what I am.
I am weary of having to live with the perpetual awareness that many people I know don’t mind me being an author as long as I never mention it. Some wouldn’t mind my multiple ear piercings either if I grew my hair longer to cover them. Others don’t mind my tattoos as long as my clothes hide them. They feign politeness when I talk about the theatre company I’m in or the musicals I direct at school, but very few of them have ever bought a ticket and come to see a show. And let’s not even start on how they feel about my political views.
And yes. Those very different things get exactly the same reaction from a lot of people.
It’s ridiculous, and I’m over it.
I am not less than them.
I do not matter less than they do.
My feelings, thoughts, passions and pursuits matter just as much as theirs do.
I am as worthy of their interest and respect as they are of mine.
And I am very proud of my poetry and my stories… and of my shows. I’m rather fond of my tattoos and piercings too, for that matter.
What I write happens to be pretty darned good: all those reviews my books receive from strangers are proof of that. Why should I hide my work under a cloak of secrecy when they can freely discuss being a builder, a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker?
Nobody looks at them with thinly veiled suspicion. Nobody questions if what they build or make is any good. Nobody asks how much money they make per job. Nobody asks if their kids are real, or if they are any good.
They are all quite free and welcome to talk about their kids in front of me even though I don’t have any, and I certainly don’t respond as though they are trying to sell me a child.
So, no more tiptoeing around. I won’t be shoving a book in their face at every opportunity — that’s not me — but I’m not going to allow others to pretend they don’t exist, either. They don’t have to read my work, but they will know that I expect their respect and acknowledgment.
I will not allow other people to treat me as less than I am.
I will not allow them to suppress my thoughts and feelings.
I will call people out on double standards.
I will refuse to be made to feel small.
I will be as diplomatic and gentle as I can, but I will assert myself.
And if they insist, I will know they are not really my people, and were never really in my circle.