The Cowboy Boots

cowboy bootsFor years I’ve been told I have a strong personality and a reputation for saying what I think.

I’ve never known whether those comments are meant to be compliments or insults and whether those traits are strengths or weaknesses.

What I do know is that I can’t hide who I am. There was a time in my life when I did, and I was absolutely miserable.

We had recently moved from Oregon to West Virginia, and I was trying to understand and assimilate into a brand new culture.

I was failing miserably.  No matter what I wore, it was wrong. No matter what I said, it was wrong. And no matter what I believed, it was wrong.

Conformity was the norm, and I had never learned to conform.  But I tried, which is why I was excited when the theme one day during spirit week at school was “Western Day.”

That, I could do. My family had lived on an Indian reservation, so I could wear the jewelry. I’d been to more rodeos and roundups than I could count.

I chose to go with the cowboy hat and cowboy boots theme.

Only that too, was all wrong.

The other girls wore stylish cowboy boots with rounded toes. I wore pointed cowboy boots that had actually trudged through fields of cattle and horses and probably still had traces of manure clinging to them.

Needless to say, I was ridiculed all day for my pointy boots.

I think that’s the day I pushed the real Trina deep inside. That’s the day I started to nod at statements with which I didn’t agree and keep my mouth shut for fear of being ridiculed. That’s the day when I gave up being genuine for being accepted. That’s the day I became a follower rather than a leader.

Because of that, I hated those cowboys boots. Not only did they represent being a misfit and a nonconformist, they represented not how unhappy I was when I wasn’t true to myself.

Then something amazing happened.

I went to college, and I met people who didn’t need to conform and were happy to express their opinion regardless of what other people thought. And they still had friends.

I went to work and met people who shared my values and were confident in their beliefs. And they still enjoyed life.

And I started working with disenfranchised members of the community who believed in themselves and what they contributed to society no matter what others thought.

And the real me came back: the me that is opinionated and outspoken and who sometimes wears boots that aren’t in style.

But the boots I do wear are walking down a path that I really want to take. And even though that path may be rocky, this opinionated and outspoken woman couldn’t be happier.

She likes that path.

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About Trina Bartlett

I live in the Eastern Panhandle of WV, with one dog, two cats, a daughter in high school, a son starting his latest adventures at West Virginia University and a husband who works strange hours. When I'm not working as a director at a nonprofit social service organization or being a mom, I can generally be found riding my bike, walking my dog and stirring things up.

Posted on November 9, 2013, in My life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I can relate a little to what you wrote even though I am male and 80 years old. My career resulted in 20 moves in 40 years. I still have the same wife. lol I was also a full blown people pleaser who was also passive and found women very intimidating. lol Despite that, I had a good career and am retired—20 years.

    I read a book called ‘The Disease to Please’ when I was 74 years old and it changed my life. I started speaking up more and discovered my wife and family liked the old Chuck who went along with everything, did what they wanted, and got permission to do what I wanted.

    It is better, but not perfect. Being a people pleaser all of those years is a habit hard to break.

    I like what you wrote and glad to hear you are going to be genuine and authentic. That is the only way to live in this life.

  2. Keep on walking on your own path Trina. It’s the right way to fulfillment. Sage advice from a previously dedicated conformist.

  1. Pingback: The Joke of the Day | Ye Olde Soapbox

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