For some of us, for different reasons, adaptability comes easily. We understand, we empathise, we see the other person’s point of view and we adapt. A lot of this adaptability comes from socialisation and education when we were children I suppose. We could have been told that we must adjust, we must not fight, we must accept and even sacrifice. Though this might have hardly been done with the intention of making us into adults who adapt so much they are incapable of seeing, when they lose themselves in changing shape and size for the world around them, it was the effect it had, at least on me.
I have always had two contradictory messages passed on to me by adults, when I was a child, I must ‘adjust’ and I must be assertive. I never actually figured out how to balance both. It remains to this day a struggle for me. Someone once asked me if being honest to the point of disappointing someone was possible for me and I had tears in my eyes. It was mostly not. If I had to keep my thoughts to myself in order to not disappoint or hurt someone, I would do it without hesitation. I might even offer this strategy as advice in situations of conflict to others.
But some maturity and years of experience using this strategy has taught me that while I value this capacity for adaptability in me and other people, I absolutely needed to know when to be honest in order to protect my integrity. I still believe there are situations where brutal honesty is not necessary in the larger scheme of things. But not being brutally honest does not mean losing authenticity and becoming someone that you can only pretend to be. Being honest with kindness and grace is a skill I need to learn. Accepting that sometimes, I might disappoint with my honesty is something I need to accept. Saying ‘No’ has always been hard for me, for fear of disappointing the person I was refusing and I have learned that it is valuable to say it with assertion. It is important to find a balance between adaptability and self-preservation. So important. More power to all those struggling with finding this balance.
A quote I read today on the Instagram profile @createthelove that brought me to this post:
‘A fine line exists between adaptability… and sacrificing self. Know when you go with the flow and when you give your flow away’ – Danielle Doby