I was a strong-willed child. When I wasn’t allowed to do something or told that I didn’t have the ability to do it, I would do my best to prove the opposite. And while I no longer break a glass door with my fist or read books I was supposedly too young for, I am still stubborn. For example, when it comes to pursuing goals; when someone tells me they are not worthwhile, especially if this opinion is based on a slap-dash assessment. Or when someone says that I should just shut up and get with the program because that’s the rule.
Raised in Germany, I was taught to surrender to authority simply because someone wore a white coat or uniform. As an avid student of history, I realised at an early age how it was exactly this attitude that had created great suffering and tragedy only a generation before I was born. So I taught myself to step up and speak up, which, granted, took a while given that I needed to overcome my fear of punishment. Which happened. Sometimes it was justified, sometimes not, ironically, depending on the stubbornness of the person in charge. I persisted. Now I can have conversations with just about anyone about anything.
I know when to step back and allow acquiescence and acceptance to flow through me, particularly when I realise that my ego is getting the better of me. I can let go when I realise that I don’t have enough data and information or when I simply want to prove that I know better than someone else (and I admittedly sometimes google to prove that I am right).
I wonder what would have happened had I been born during the last decade. Yes, my parents struggled with my wilfulness, but they would have never thought to take me to a doctor to be checked for oppositional defiance disorder. Let me be clear, I am sure there are children who fit the label, but how many are diagnosed and medicated because it’s an easier path than teaching a strong-willed child the balance between assertiveness and stubbornness? What are your thoughts?