The Answer Lady

I’ve always had people come to me for advice, no matter how big or small.  Apparently I have an invisible (to me, anyway) sign over my head that says Answer Lady, or something in my face or countenance tells others that I’m someone who can help them.

In high school this manifested as a little advice column among my friends and their friends, called “Auntie Em.”  People would pass notes to Auntie Em with whatever issue was plaguing them and I’d write back with what I felt were good solutions.  When I entered the working world, people would walk up to me in a store and ask where to find the pickles, or socks, or whatever item they were in search of.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t work at that store, nor do I need to wear clothes that even slightly resemble the uniform.  People just feel they can come to me for assistance.

The problem is that people who know me a little better than strangers, but not as well as my close friends, tend to also assume that I have my life together; that I’m some sort of role model to look up to, or to help them figure out what they should do on a spiritual or moral level.  Not only is that assumption a HELL of a lot of pressure to put on someone, it’s also not true.

I’m just as messed up as anyone else out there.  I have “dirty laundry,” bad habits, and moments when I’m selfish or not very nice, just like any other human being.  I spend WAY too much time worrying over things I can’t control or change, or imagining scenarios that might never come to light.

I also have my hypocritical moments.  Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how dangerous “shoulding” on people or situations is, then in the next blog, I essentially said that people who are “afraid” of driving shouldn’t get behind a wheel.  First off, who the hell am I to decide if someone is afraid of driving or not?  And secondly, in that blog I was guilty of the same judging that I had previously cautioned everyone against.

Even now, when I’m admitting my foibles, there’s one part of me that wonders if I’m being too lenient by saying “everyone does this,” as if saying that makes it okay or acceptable, and another part of me that wonders if I’m being overly harsh with myself.  And in another moment, my ego will step in and compliment me for my humility.  See?  I’m messed up!

But I often play along with this Answer Lady persona, because I think I have to keep up the pretense of being “together.”  Partly because I fear that people won’t like me if I can’t be the pillar they seem to expect or want me to be, and partly because I’d probably label myself “weak” if I couldn’t handle everything on my own (I used to SUCK at asking for help.  I don’t excel at it now, mind you, but I’m definitely better at it than I was).  That damned ego is probably in play there, too, thinking it makes me cool to seem so stable.

The real downside to being a natural Answer Lady is that people tend to want me to lead them in something.  Anytime I join a group, within my first year as a member, I’m always asked to take on a board member role.  This even happened when I was part of Aviation Explorers back in high school.  I hadn’t been in the group six months, and they wanted me to be Secretary.  I’ve often felt like I don’t want to join groups anymore, because I’m always asked to assume a leadership role, when all I really want to do is blend into the background somewhere and soak up the knowledge and companionship I get from being a member of the club.  And yes, I could always say “no, thank you,” but then I worry that I’m letting them down somehow.

So please, on behalf of the other people out there who are looked upon as Answer Lady/Man, don’t automatically assume s/he has or even is the answer you’re looking for.  And when you notice them not being as stable or sturdy as you once thought they were, please don’t judge them too harshly.

Thank you.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Craig
    Mar 08, 2013 @ 10:08:35

    I didn’t even know we HAD an Aviation Explorers club in our H.S. (For those that don’t know. Alyx and I went to the same HS a couple years apart and, yes, we did know each other back then)

    Reply

  2. Dolly Chamberlin
    Mar 13, 2013 @ 08:16:35

    I believe it is a truth, that all of us are a full spectrum, within ourselves, & that plays out just as you described. LOVES :}

    Reply

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