(image source Pinterest.com)
“That girl’s got attitude!” Whether you have heard somebody say that about you, or have said it about somebody else, it’s interesting to consider what attitude really means. Is it a style? Is it a way of life? Is it the way you perceive the world around you? Or perhaps it’s the way others perceive you and your behaviour?
A few years ago I trained as a relationship counsellor. I was only in my twenties and in spite of completing my training and earning my qualification, I still felt that I would be perceived by clients as young and inexperienced. So I went to the opticians and bought myself some glasses, figuring that they would make me look intelligent and wise (like the owl!) I would instill more confidence on first impressions than I would without them. As I saw it, glasses suggested to others that I had a serious, grown up attitude – like a costume, my Clark Kent alter ego.
But where was the attitude coming from? Me or the clients? Perhaps if I had taken a different attitude and believed that my skills alone were enough to be taken seriously I might not have needed the props. Perhaps if my clients weren’t part of a society that equates wisdom with age, they might not have judged my age. Perhaps they weren’t judging me, perhaps that was my own attitude to age… and so it goes. I’m not sure whether it was down the the glasses or not, but either way I ended up having lots of happy clients who didn’t seem to care whether I was wearing glasses or not once we got to working together.
These days I work in a business environment, I am a mother, I’m a grown-up. I wear smart clothes and try to look and behave professionally – but my attitude is quite the opposite at times. I have tattoos, big bright colourful ones. I love colour. I love sparkles, I’d wear sequins and frilly skirts every day if I could! My glasses these days are red and flowery (I still don’t really have much prescribed need for them, I just like them). Far from a mask to make sure I am taken more seriously, they are now a personal nod to my need to have fun and indulge my childish side. Something from my dressing up box!
American basketball player and coach John Wooden is credited with the quote ‘things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out’. This statement and others like it suggest that attitude is a conscious approach to living your life, a choice to be positive and proactive or negative and defeatist.
However you look at it, you can be sure that attitude is about so much more than glasses or no glasses! Attitude is made up of emotions, thoughts, beliefs and behaviours – some deeply ingrained and some easier to change. Personal experiences, societal norms, fashions and peer groups are all contributors to our attitudes towards self and others. Some days you just wake up with that swagger that tells the world you are feeling good and can handle anything, you smile at strangers and they smile back at you. Then there are the days you walk around with your own personal thundercloud that says ‘no thanks, not today, I’m not in the mood!’, you look only at the floor and feel lonely and miserable because (unsuprisingly) nobody comes to talk to you.
So, think it over. Traditional or trendy, relaxed or uptight, confident or timid, reserved or expressive – what does your attitude say about you?