What’s wrong with having a strong, positive, knowing your own mind, sticking to your guns, thinking head on your shoulders?

It seems logical that if you know yourself, then what you say or do should support your beliefs. Easy train to follow, right? Yet, can any of us definitively say that we have not been occasionally swayed by input coming at us? Internet searches lead us from where we started to how did I get there and spend ten minutes reading that? Facebook comments likes or dislikes make or break our days. We unexpectedly shrink under the critical opinions of friends and family for a photo we posted. 

Those who’ve known me for the last several years will probably laugh at this sentence: I wish I had never given up being headstrong.

You’re saying I didn’t?

Had you known this redhead maniac as a child, you could clearly see how much I’ve mellowed.

Ahem. Family, hold thee tongues.

I came across these photos and burst out laughing. This is a clear example of me as a headstrong child. I am sure my mother did not want me to have my school pictures taken in the same dress two years apart. I am sure I insisted. I am sure I wore her down with whining until she caved under the sound of my voice. Who’s idea was it to buy a dress I could wear for three years? Probably mine. When did I grow? (Did I ever?) 

I have distinct memories of loving this dress. I loved the bow—and not tying it. I loved the shades of green—still my favorite color. I loved the semi-cat-eye glasses that were all the rage in 1969. I hated the Pixie haircut, which is funny since that’s what I sported for a year or so—since, Wear a Hat! Your scalp will thank you!

From the vantage of time, it is a scream that I have these pictures as proof of my obstinance.

Mom, who could be as stubborn as a mule, had three of us between 1957 and 1962. At least the other two were calmer kids—the older sister Jackie who was entirely too nice—and the younger brother Joey who was the Golden Child. Jackie was generous, sweet, and rarely challenged a parent. Joey was kind and patient and always willing to lend a hand. Change those tenses to the present and you still have these siblings behaving in those ways.

I, on the other hand, was fed the redheads-have-a-temper mantra for so long that I must have bought into it and endeavored to live up to it. What fools thought telling a kid that was a good idea? Parents of redheads, keep that old wive’s tale to yourselves.

I was the rowdy little defiant one. Asking “why/why not” may start during the toddler years, but for me, it has never ceased. Why should I? Why do you? Why would we? Why can’t I? Why wouldn’t you? Why would anyone? Why does that happen?

On it went.

On it goes.

Our poor Mom! She was not one to question the status quo. As a shy introvert, she wanted to fly under the radar. I wanted to run the radar.

Somewhere along the way I got a little less defiant. 

While the questioning persona persists, the digger in of heels has changed.

There’s a pro and a con to this mellowing of the muser. 

On the positive side are less arguments with those around me and a bit less stress in my life as I realize some battles are simply not worth having. On the negative side, though, is a lack of willpower or determination. Where before it would have been the “come hell or high water” approach to something I wanted, sometimes these days I find myself thinking, oh, whatever, why should I bother?

A Cavalier attitude is not good when one must have sheer determination and a thick skin to:

  • Query agents for a mystery. Again and again.
  • Write and maintain a blog. It’s more than what you see.
  • Market my travel journals. Don’t you have a trip coming up?
  • Create a sporadic Dog & Monkey Show blog. Adventures of Burt and Muggins.
  • Work at a marriage. Fun, support, work.
  • Spend time with a vast array of enjoyable friends. Where would I be without you?
  • Deepen faith. This is a daily must.
  • Maintain the wickedly evil Hill From Hades. Be thankful for the calmer parts of the yard.
  • Exercise enough to stay in reasonable shape. So I can enjoy wine.
  • Read, read, and read some more. And more. And more

It’s a lot. And I’m not a parent. I’m not sure how those folks do it. 

Headstrong would serve me well these days. Headstrong would see me writing not just during the workday, but after supper, squeezing in another hour. Being disciplined could help me survive that hour-long Jillian Michael’s video instead of the 30-minute workout. Stubborn might see me walking into more gift and book stores seeking places to stock my travel journals.

How do you get that childhood determination back and use it for good, for goal achievement without being selfish?

Maybe it starts with concentrating on being headstrong as a positive trait and thinking about the ways that strength would come in handy in your adulthood. Maybe consider leaving the “head” part of the word and simply put energy into being strong.

What do you think?

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Would you use the word “headstrong” to describe yourself or what adjective would you plug into the title of this blog?

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Blog updated and expanded from a previous post.