…And I like Brussels sprouts too, darn it.

Every time I prepare these vegetables my husband complains. He says, “your food makes the house smell awful.” I eat these tasty, albeit stinky, cruciferous veggies, despite his complaints. However, this hasn’t always been the case.

I used to rearrange my life to try to make other people happy and to avoid judgment. I would do one of two things. I would either not enjoy something because it wasn’t agreeable to someone else or do it when they weren’t around. This behavior, just so you know, isn’t courteous, it is messed up. Courtesy is cleaning your hair out of the shower drain. This is messed up like if my brother called me a pig, as brothers are known to do, and I respond by starving myself when others were around and squirrel food away to eat by myself.  If only I was the kind of kid who just stuck her tongue out and said, “you’re a big fat pig times a gazillion” and went on with my life.

I wasn’t that kinda kid. I deferred my interests, preferences, and life trying not to rock the boat lest love or acceptance be taken from me. Am I damaged goods? Nah. There were simply childhood challenges which lead me to build such behavior patterns. I was also a sensitive child making me somewhat predisposed to people pleasing.

Either way the message I gave to myself was that the preferences and ideas of others were more important than my own preferences and ideas. The biggest shame of it is, it took me until I was fully into adulthood to start to get the courage to even identify what it was I liked and thought, so buried had those things become.

I remember walking around an art show with Matthew, who I had just started dating at the time. He was in the show and had won a small award. He had a deal with himself that whenever he won something he use a specific percentage of the money to buy something from a fellow artist. Matthew wanted a candy bowl in his booth so we went to pick a ceramic bowl from artist Toni Thompson Mann. Matthew had two bowls he liked and asked me which one I wanted to get. I couldn’t answer. Not only that, I didn’t really know which I liked best. I hesitated for so long he finally made a choice. I was relieved, but only for a second.

As we walked back to his booth I couldn’t stop thinking about the scene in Toni’s space. This guy valued my opinion and would have bought the bowl “I” wanted, but I didn’t see any value in my opinion. Well crap, this wasn’t any good! Good things come from bad moments and thanks to that experience I started to grow a backbone.

Backbones are good to have. Life is a whole lot better with backbone! People won’t like your opinions all the time. Sometimes they will respect you because you were sincere. Sometimes sincerity won’t matter. Regardless of what other people think, YOU must value your options and preferences. If you don’t say it like it is enough or hardly do it at all, it’s time to start. Like…RIGHT NOW!

Is this something you find hard to do? Or have you bury yourself so much, like I did, you’re not even sure what you like? I have a strange little way to help you out. Do the following…
Eat a few worms or go bungee jumping. Try nude camping on top a snow drift, play nothing but opera or Scottish-inspired mouth music or improvisational jazz all day. And for sure drink your own pee because I’ll bet you big money you have an honest-to-goodness opinion about drinking your own pee!

Not into pee drinking? Me either. Look at us, we’re both clear about something we don’t like. Progress!
While you’re on a roll, do this. Dare yourself to fill in the blanks. This is a safe way to declare a desire. It doesn’t have to be THE desire above all others. This is just something you would do if you could. Try it now.
If only I could__________________then I would______________ and ____________.

The above could is what you wish you could do but haven’t been able to. The above would is what you would do if you could do the first thing.

Be bolder still, my friend, and send me your answer! Show me your backbone, baby!
PS: These days, I use that candy bowl to eat my cauliflower out of!

*Don’t really drink your own pee or any of those other suggestions, or at least don’t do it because I told you to.