On more than one occasion, I have been told that people think I am mean. Not that I am mean, not that they know me to be mean, but rather that they believe that I would be mean. It's a perception.
In many ways, it's not one I understand. I'm a fairly nice person--at least that's what they always used to write in my yearbooks. And most people that actually know me love me, which may not preclude me from being mean, but I'd assume that if I were really mean people wouldn't love me as much. But maybe I'm wrong on that note.
Anyway, to the point, I'm at summer camp deaning and yet again I have been told that people are afraid of me. People, I assume, are intimidated. Now, like I said, on the one hand, I don't understand it, but on the other one...I do.
1) My friends used to think my dad was mean. Not that they actually knew him, but his confident, quiet, presence was intimidating, they didn't know how to respond, and just assumed he was mad. But really, my dad is a super sweet teddy bear of a man. He's not mean. He's never lifted a hand, or even raised his voice to me. (He's cleared his throat more than a few times, but that's a different story). So, I could make an associate and see how when I am in a leadership role and regularly reminding people of the rules and many of the campers don't get the chance to actually get to know me because I'm not in their cabin or a small group that they would assume I am mean.
2) Most of the women who have affected deep change in me along the way have been "mean." They have been intimidating women who demanded excellence. When I was under their tutelage, I was scared on more than one occasion. But they were also the women I respected the most and who pushed me to be the best I could be and do the best work I could do (in as much as I could be pushed at those respective stages...). And, in many ways, along my way to becoming who I am, I have aspired to be like them, so it's no wonder that I would be considered "mean" if that's the goal I was aspiring to reach! =)
Now, having said all of that, I don't want to be considered mean. I want to be accessible to the youth. I want them to know they can count on me. I want them to know that I love them and care about them.
At camp, for many years, I have longed to be the popular one. And then the other night when I mentioned it in prayer, God lovingly responded...I didn't call you to be the popular one. I called you to be you.
So, I guess that means the one perceived as mean, but who really loves people...this week I am practicing being me.