I’ve been thinking about stuck-upness recently. One of my friends was talking about someone we grew up with, who is also my friend. He said he just remembers her being really stuck up and prissy. I’ve talked to her about those days and it was really hard for her. She wanted to fit in and be friends with all of us, but she was naturally very feminine and we were all tomboys or boys.

I was walking home yesterday and something hit me — stuck-up can also mean stuck up. Like you’re stuck up somewhere (like in your head) and can’t get down. I know I’ve been there.

(Names have been changed)

I’ve been talking to Josephine for the least year now. We grew up together on a farm and reconnected last year and became friends again. We’ve talked a lot about how when she moved to the farm she didn’t fit in because she was really girly and feminine and liked to dress up and all the other kids there were tomboys. How they made fun of her for being who she was, called her prissy and a princess, stuck-up, snobby, ditzy, aloof, you name it. She became ashamed of her femininity because of this shaming.

I was talking to Tom, who I grew up with on that farm, last week. I mentioned I was friends with Josephine because we were talking about who we were still connected to from our childhood together. He said to me, “She was really stuck-up and prissy.” And I got really defensive of my friend. It sparked this need in me to write about it. Because there are always at least two sides to a story and no one ever wants to be stuck up. I wanted to tell him, “No, you misunderstood the situation. She was shy about being girly because she got made fun of for it by everyone. She wasn’t stuck-up. She was stuck up in her head because it wasn’t okay for her to be herself so she had to think really hard about who she was being to try to be someone else. So don’t continue that now! 15 years later! She’s one of the loveliest humans I know, inside and out. Go get to know her!”

This is a theme I see in the world, happening inside me, and all around me. If someone doesn’t fit in, we automatically assume that they’re actively doing something to not fit in. If someone is not talking to us, we assume that they are actively not talking to us. This is a generalization, but I’ve seen it happen a lot. When the truth is that that person doesn’t feel full permission inside or outside of themselves to express who they are, or their attention is somewhere else and they don’t know you want to talk to them!!

There’s something that happens when we’re afraid of being rejected by someone. I’m going to call it preemptive rejection. We see someone — we judge them and reject them before they can ever reject us. This cuts off most avenues to connecting with them, or for them connecting with us! I know it’s real because I’ve done it, and come out on the other side and realized that I made all the stuff up about how that person thought they were better than me and wouldn’t want to talk to me. It’s all bullshit!!!!

To lead is to initiate action. When you reject someone, you’re leading them to reject you. When you reach out to talk to someone you’ve never met, you’re leading that person to talk to someone they’ve never met. It’s an opportunity to look at what you’ve been choosing, and decide if you like your choices, or want to make new choices.

I have about a million questions every day for myself and the people around me about who we’re choosing to be, how we’re choosing to show up and what’s motivating us. Can we put less effort into being — be who we naturally are — and put that energy towards something else in our life that actually needs it? Take all that energy that we’re using to preemptively reject people and use it as courage to take the first step in connecting or reconnecting with them?

If this resonates with you please heart it and pass it on! ❤