Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Things That Change You

Do remember those certain moments in life that sort of define how you are today? Not big life changing moments (although, I guess they could become life changing) but--more like small moments that change how you view the world?

I was thinking the other day about some when I went to wash and condition my hair, and did my usual, check and double check of the label on my shampoo and conditioner bottle.

When I was about 5 years old, my mom let me wash my own hair. And so I did. And I done good. When she came back, she asked me if I had washed it. I told her that I had. And she looked around and said, "with what shampoo?" I pointed to a large bottle. She picked it up and said, "This is conditioner, not shampoo!" I insisted it was shampoo, I had looked at the label and saw that it was shampoo and knew that by reading it, I could be trusted to wash my hair with shampoo. She showed me the label, and it did in fact say conditioner. I scoured that label looking for ANY word that looked like shampoo. I was SO SURE.

Of course I was wrong. But I remember so clearly seeing the word shampoo and feeling confident that I wasn't acting like an irresponsible 5-year-old.

To this day--I will not pour it out into my hand or put it on my head until I've seen the word "shampoo" at least two times on the label. More likely 3 or 4 though. Even if the bottles are different colors. Even if I'm completely out of conditioner, I will still check the label of the only bottle available.

Another one:

When I was about 9 years old I was outside when someone was visiting our house and I was laughing and smiling and doing my darnedest to get attention. After the lady left, my mom said to me, "You didn't brush your teeth today." She was right, but I didn't care. I had more important things to worry about than dental hygiene. But then she said, "It's really pretty awful Nobody, people see this pretty little girl with a great smile and beautiful red hair and then you smile and then they think 'eeeeewwwww, that's a shame, she'd be so cute if she had clean teeth'."

Of course what I heard first was "pretty little girl". But the description of me smiling with nasty teeth really stuck with me. It didn't just convince me to brush my teeth regularly, but it made me aware that people see more than I realize they see. And you'll be relieved to know, that I take personal pride in my dental hygiene now.

Fast forward many years.

I was about 23 years old. I was going to college in Northern Utah and my cousin was going to school about 100 miles south. We were going to drive to our family reunion in California together. We met and packed up the car in Salt Lake City and started to head out of town. We were winding our way to a freeway entrance. I think we realized we needed gas. She went to make a left turn from a middle turning lane. The two lanes in the opposite direction were slowing down for a red light. The lane closest to us slowed to a stop to let her through. The second lane was slow, and she slowly rolled through when a jeep came flying down the lane and broadsided us. It was my first and only car accident. Because I could move and nothing was broken, I thought it was no big deal. The stupid jeep was going about 35, when he was supposed to be slowing to a stop anyway. Either way, it was our fault, so it didn't matter how fast he was going. The best/worst part of the story---it was a mechanic test driving a customer's car just before he finished up and gave the car back. Yikes, eh?

To this day, I will not make a left turn like that. I can't bring myself to do it. If there is any traffic at all, I'll go to a light to turn around. The weird part? I'll totally do it for a right turn.

And then the last one I was thinking about.

Not much later, when I was a senior in college I lived with a great group of girls. One had been my roommate the year before. Another was a freshman girl I had babysat when I was 14-17 years old and her dad was in med school. Her mom and I had remained friends after they moved, and that year, Camille and I became very good friends. Later she babysat Bo for me when I worked a part-time job while J was in school. Then we traded childcare for date nights, and when we weren't doing that, we spent the time dancing around the streets singing "The Circle of Life".

So that's not the story. The story is---I was kind of a rude person. I didn't hesitate to make other people the butts of my jokes. I had no idea how rude I was. Because I still had the world view that people saw the world the same way I did. And I didn't mind people making jokes at my expense. Well, only if it was funny.

Well, we had a roommate named Heidi. And Heidi had a friend named Heidi. Who called 2-3 times a day. But Roommate Heidi was rarely home, so Friend Heidi would leave a message. And she'd say, "Hi Heidi this is Heidi, just calling to say hi!" And she said the same thing EVERY time. It was really funny. But because I deemed it kind of ridiculous, I sort of treated her like she was. I didn't consciously THINK that about her when we were together, but I definitely treated her that way. So, one day she was over at our house and she said something and I responded with something I'm sure I thought was funny, and I'm positive was rude.

Then I heard Camille say, "She isn't trying to be mean, I promise, she's really very nice."

It struck me to the core. I couldn't believe that THAT was being said about me, and I watched Heidi's face kind of change like, "Oh, she isn't picking on me because of me?" and I felt horrible. As I should have.

I doubt Camille remembers this. I hope Friend Heidi doesn't remember this. But I'm glad I do. There is no place for that kind of humor and if someone else has to be the butt of your joke, it isn't worth it. Unless you sit and make bracelets at a Girl's Night Out and I know you can take it. Then all bets are off. I will totally make fun of you, all for a laugh.

What are some of your "defining moments"?

36 comments:

ucmama said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! bracelets at girls night!

ucmama said...

first AND second! Yay-yeah!

CoconutKate said...

My mom used to tell me I didn't look good in black. I still have a hard time buying anything black to wear.

I cried a LOT when I was a kid. Between being ultra sensitive, brothers who tortured me, and sisters who teased, it seemed like I was always in tears. My parents stopped asking why I was crying and started telling me to just stop. I was determined to stop crying and to this day I have a really hard time crying over anything.

There was a guy I REALLY liked in college who told my roommate that I smothered people. I'm pretty sure I did...just crowding myself in all the time. I took a long look at myself and realized I needed to work a little more on me so I wasn't so much in "need" of others. It hurt at the time but I'm glad he told her so that I could make those changes and learn to be more comfortable with myself.

:0)
probably TMI from a stranger but hey, I'm still a little socially awkward.

Howertons in Iowa said...

I totally check my shampoo and conditioner - EVERY Time! I am so glad that it's not weird and if it is weird, then at least I'm not alone in that.

I have to say that I too feel as though I am like you in the fact that I just state things like you did with Heidi's friend Heidi.
I have no filter and so I leave gatherings, wondering if I am then the one they all gossip about because I let too much loose.

That Girls night out with bracelet making sounds fun! I cannot think of ONE thing funner when you have no kids and you are hanging out with a bunch of friends than to make bracelets! Such a good use of time! :)

ucmama said...

Oh, I also meant to tell you that since you have such beautiful teeth and luscious hair, and that you are always the sweetest person anywhere, that there just isn't any one thing I can think of that makes you less than perfect! You're practically Mary Poppins!



uh, I think I just figured out the one thing that makes me slightly less than radically awesome...

dancin' momma said...

Hum...I have always been an ultra quiet/shy person (shy to the pt where I get nervous to say hi to someone), but when I first started dating Hubby he informed me that he used to think I was snobby. That shocked me. It was something I really didn't want to be. Since then I have tried really hard to be more outgoing.

Camille said...

I have the exact same problem as dancin' momma. When I was about 15 I was shopping with my mom at the mall. We passed someone I casually knew and I didn't say hi. My mom said that was very snobby of me but I was just shy and didn't really know what to say. I try harder to be more outgoing now.

Sarah Tilley said...

i really suck sometimes with social interactions simply because due to psychological issues of mine i must never ever get emotional in public for any reason whatsoever, and as a consequence i deal with most uncomfortable situations with humor. me being the complete dork i am, on several occasions with several different people attempted to console with humor, which resulted in dead opposite, hugely negative train wrecks each time. i felt like crap, each miserable experience rubbing in the fact that i should just shut my trap otherwise my foot will just fly right in there. now instead of saying such things as, "wow, next time you feel like going nuts, let me know so i can come along," i just say generic stuff like, "wow, that sucks."

also when i was in middle school my eye teeth took like five years to grow in so i never showed my teeth in pictures for the longest time. then some lady visiting church told me i had a nice smile so i started smiling naturally in photos again. then a certain dental hygienist suggested that my teeth were hideously yellow so i'm back to the closed mouth smile until my self esteem collapses enough to force me into purchasing expensive teeth whitening products.

and i check the toothpaste each time because i almost brushed my teeth with anti-itch cream one time-- good thing i noticed before i the tooth brush in my mouth.

Heffalump said...

I am self conscious about my weight and my singing voice because my family made fun of both when I was growing up.
Since being stalked at one point in my life I am always nervous and aware of my surroundings when it is dark out. I make my husband come out to the car to walk me in if I go to the store after dark, even if it's only eight at night or so.

Klin said...

I have a lot of self doubt due to not measuring up to my dad's, maternal grandmothers's, and some aunts, cousins, and in-laws expectations no matter how hard I tried.

They complain about the smallest flaws in something I do even if the rest of it is spectacular.

Hence I do not try to go out of my way very often for extended family. My mom, bros, and sis think I rock.

Klin said...

I forgot to add that yes I did listen to the haters for awhile. I'm better now. Much better.

Word Girl said...

If American Idol wasn't on, I'd think about your question. But after American Idol is part II of the season finale of The Bachelor. So I'll think about it in my dreams and get back to you...

Plain Jame said...

"practically perfect in every way".

Not me.

I was the youngest of four very cruel girls. I love my sisters to death now, but we hated each others guts and said the meanest things to each other growing up. That pretty much defines me, knowing that even if I ever really feel good about myself and my life, there is always someone that can take me down a notch, and that I'll never be that great; life is great as mediocre.

I think it all served me well - dont you?

InkMom said...

Basement issues for me. First, every time I come up the stairs from ANY dark basement I am suddenly back in the scary inky black unfinished downstairs of my grandparents' house. Super scary. And I run fast. Even in my own house, which has a very nicely finished basement with a quilting corner, an office corner, a cozy fireplace, and a huge screen for projecting movies.

And then when we were growing up, if two people were going up the stairs at the same time, the person in the back would repeatedly smack the person in the front on the butt. So if you were in front it behooveth you to hustle, and if you were in the back, if you were fast enough, you got to beat the crap out of your sister. Or brother. So now I always try to walk up the stairs at the back of the group. As if I might just break out the slapping hand and whip some perfect stranger who happens to be lucky enough to share a staircase with me, say, in an office building or at the mall.

Now I sound like I should be committed. Oh, well.

InkMom said...

OH! And this is a good one! MommyJ does it too. WHen we were growing up, we had this floorlength mirror, but it sat on the floor at an angle instead of flush against the wall. In order to see not just your outfit, but also your head, you had to tilt your head to the side.

To this day -- and it's completely subconscious -- MommyJ and I both cock our heads to one side when we're checking ourselves out in the mirror. I catch myself doing it in fitting rooms at clothing stores, in the bathroom when I'm doing my hair and makeup, even if I glance into a reflective surface to see myself in passing.

My husband totally makes fun of me for this. In fact, when I ask him how my outfit looks, he almost always tells me to tilt my head . . . there. That looks great. Yeah. It gets pretty old.

Tori :) said...

Oh what a RAD post!! I may have to steal if I can think of anything cool defining moments...
I was in a car wreck when I was 16 when my friend busted a U-turn and was hit. Then in 2006 Sei was turning left into a driveway and a guy totally hit us. I couldn't turn left forever and I CANNOT bust a U.
I probably have a ton of things that my mom said that warped me, so maybe that wouldn't be a good post because she reads my blog...

Sarah said...

I avoid walking past crowds of people for fear they will laugh and call me lard a**.... this is from my entire elementary years

aubrey said...

you aren't being mean you're really very nice. ouch. i think i would have a hard time not making fun of the "hi heidi, this is heidi" thing.

ava will wash her hair occasionally by herself and always double and triple checks with me if the blue cap comes first or the white cap. next time i will tell her to just read the bottle. ...why have i never thought of that? what kind of a mother am i?

Barnecked Lady said...

I'm pretty sure I have those "defining moments' everyday. The one I remember most vividly was in High School. I will never forget! I was taking a quiz in my English Class and got caught cheating. The teacher snatched my paper out of my hand put a big fat zero on it and gave it back. If that wasn't enough to teach me a lesson, some boy in my class blurted out. "Hey Amy, I thought you were a Mormon." I was so embarassed and felt so bad. I've never cheated on anything ever since, at least not on purpose. (c:

Camille said...

I saw another Camille in the comments and thought someone was impersonating me, but it's another Camille. Anyhow, I do not remember that moment at all, but I definitely remember the "Hi Heidi, this is Heidi!" thing. I feel like MY comment was the rude one.

S said...

Having to spend my whole prior life hearing "oh what beautiful red hair" only to have to do it again in my current life. Can't people change atleast what they say? Dr office x 3 hours x 10 comments an hour equals. uggggggggggggg! But I will say she has some pretty hair!

I am sure I have more.....I will get back with you!

Oh wait I left a cast iron skillet outside when I was little and got scolded like all get out. Now when it rains I panic that i have left something out in the rain. 100yrs later it still effects me.

S said...

Funny thing is you are probable the one who left it outside in the first place. yeah that is how I remember it now! LOL

S said...

probably

S said...

Actually i just thought of another one.
When I was a newly married mother of one non mobile baby living in a tiny basement apartment with five maybe six belongings to my name. I went to visit a lady who stayed at home and her bathroom was filthy. I judged her harshly, why someone who is home ALL day not be able to clean the bathroom for her family?

Yes I think of this one often as I look at my dirty bathroom sink daily.

That lady probably had an odor too that I judged her on:) Can't remember.

Ps I liked coconutkates bestest.

Bryant and Jodi said...

Ok so I rarely wear the following colors due to my mother saying they look horriable on me; pink, orange, and some reds!

I used to be the person who you could never get to shut up! My sister told me that I talked to much and should listen to what other people were saying. Also that not everyone wanted to hear what I had to say. Now I tend to sit back and listen.

Mikelene said...

I'm like Tori: There's tons of stuff that my mom said (or did) that warped me. Led to low self-esteem issues. And I had some roommates that thought I was snobby, but it was really just shyness.(They changed their minds after a while.)
I rear-ended someone when I was 6 mos. pregnant with my son. Airbags went off & everything. Nearly totalled the minivan. It was frightening. And my girls were with me. Freaked them out. We were all ok, though. But whenever I pass by the spot were the crash happened (which is less than 2 miles from my house), my chest tightens up. And my girls still point the site out. Worst part? Exactly 3 mos. later they were with my in-laws in our other car, & they got rear-ended. On the day of my son's birth. So for a year we were all saying, "Watch out for the 2nd day of the month!" b/c those were the dates of the crashes. We treated the 2nd like the ides of March.

ucmama said...

I felt sort of bratty for leaving that other comment about you being beautiful and crap, when everyone else was leaving nice sincere ones about things that changed them.

But I don't make turns across two lanes of traffic for the exact same reason you said. I got T-boned in my door doing that one time.

Is that better?


I'm not really bad, I'm just drawn that way.

Sketchy said...

I'm sure I have defining moments...I'm just too self absorbed to realize what they are.

Sketchy said...

It's kind of like I don't really have a most embarrassing moment either. I just let it go.

Sketchy said...

I probably would get a lot more out of life if I would learn from things every so often, wouldn't I?

But then again, my way is easier.

Sketchy said...

Oh I thought of one! When I was younger I was something of a thief, I know Millie will tell you my family was perfect, but I assure you it wasn't the case. This lasted quite a bit longer than it really should have. Finally one day, I asked my dad a question (he's a CPA and there was some case about a CPA getting caught embezling money happenning at the time) and I told him I didn't think I could do that job because it would be too tempting. He told me that whenever he hears of things like that or has temptations he asks him self if that's really the price he would set on his soul. Is that 50 cents the price of my soul? Is that 20 dollars the price of my soul?

So now I'm uber honest because anytime I am faced with anything remotely dishonest I think of that. It gets a little annoying when you're in a hurry and they didn't charge you for something little...but then you here in your head over and over, is that soda the price of your soul? So then you have to say, dang it! and walk back in and pay for the stupid soda and walk all the way back out and you are thinking God would totally understand I was in a hurry! But you can't do it because your soul is worth more than $1.00.

And inexplicably even though you are now really late you feel better about yourself and the world.

Sketchy said...

Whew...I was beginning to think I really was totally self absorbed.

Sketchy said...

I'm so vain...
I can't think of a defining moment.
I'm so-ooo vain...
I don't have an embarrassing moment
Either
Either...

Code Yellow said...

I still giggle about Hi Heidi. But just to myself. :)

A kinda serious defining thing - I was always told that I was smart and my sister was always told that she was beautiful. Both things are true, but I grew up thinking that I'd just be wasting time trying to look pretty because it was kinda hopeless, and my sister grew up thinking that she was a dumb blonde. Both things that are NOT true. I made up my mind that I would always be careful with comparison and criticism and even compliments with my kids, and it is always on my mind now. But it is really, really, really hard not to do it!

Also, I never step on manhole covers because of a story I heard of a man falling down one. Do I know the man? No. Do I know who told me the story? No. But I believe it could happen, and it would be terrible. Definitely defines where I walk. :)

Emily said...

Nobody, you should really buy the shampoo and conditioner that come in different colored bottles. . . or better yet, get a 2 in 1.

I have a complex about being a low-birth-weight baby. After I learned in college that they have a lower than average IQ.

Super L said...

I probably shouldn't say this cuz it'll freak Code Yellow out, but I DID once fall into a manhole. 17 years old. One leg, all the way up. Stuck there, on main street, for about 5 minutes before anyone stopped to help me. Good times.

Do I currently step on manhole covers? Yes. Did I for 12 years? No. Do I still feel a little trepidation every time I do? Indeedy.


My dad screwed me up well and good by once telling me that soy sauce was cockroach spit. I was 5. Didn't eat it again till i was 17.