I’ve had to look in a few metaphorical mirrors recently, and it hasn’t been the most comfortable experience, to be honest. I actually dislike regular mirrors. I’ve never been someone who pays much attention to how they look. I tend to make sure there isn’t anything awful in my teeth, that my hair isn’t standing on end (never a guarantee) and then I figure I’m good.
So, when I had to see myself in 2 different types of mirrors recently, I was already outside of my comfort zone because, well, mirrors. Not my favorite.
The first was when I took the Enneagram test. I think I referred to this in an earlier post – but my therapist recommended it as a way of better understanding my tendencies and areas for growth. I am a 1/6 (my scores were only one point away from each other). I read the 6 information first, and I admit that I was a bit reactive reading it. As in, thinking “that’s not me!” However, there were also a lot of things that really rang true, as well. Not necessarily nice things – there are a lot of references to anxiety and routines (which really does describe me well) – things that are true of me. I felt as though I aligned much more with the description of the 1, though, which is why I put that number first. And it was still uncomfortable – not quite as much as with the description of the 6, but there were still some challenging revelations.
That’s the problem with these tests, for me. I tend to get defensive and then fail to recognize the opportunities for growth that they can help me identify. Fortunately, I have someone working through it with me, and I think that will help tremendously. I don’t need to change who I am, but I do need to adapt and grow… staying stagnant is not really an option.
The other mirror was the result of starting to read White Fragility due to everything that’s been going on in the US for almost a month now. I realized that I need to educate myself, and this was the book that resonated with me the most when I read the samples. (The next one up is How to Be an Anti-Racist.)
And wow. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has had this reaction, but again, I found myself getting defensive. But then, as the author fully acknowledges that a lot of white people DO get defensive when hearing about racism and structural inequality… I started to realize that what I have done throughout my life is what white people always do. I wasn’t special. Not at all. The things I told myself about “not being a racist” were the same things that pretty much all white people tell themselves.
I thought I was “above all that”. I thought because I worked with and cared for a diverse group of people and patients and families that of course I was not racist!
I failed to recognize the systemic structures that led to me being who I am. That led to the inequality that has pervaded American life throughout its history.
I’m not finished with the book yet. And I’ve probably misstated something here… If so, I’m sorry (and if I figure out that I did misstate something, I’ll come back and correct it, of course).
So, mirrors. Still not my favorite. But these two mirrors will, I hope, help me grow. Maybe change (a little). And that wouldn’t be a bad thing.