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“To the world, I promise…”: Reflections on 2010

14/12/2010

I’m fairly sure that it’s common knowledge, but I am a proud alumna of the Delta Zeta Sorority. I have heard and participated in arguments about the validity of Greek organizations on campus and the wisdom of participating in those organizations, but this isn’t a discussion about Greek life, or about Delta Zeta ~ at least, not directly.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Delta Zeta Creed, though, and I find that it’s a perfect framework around which to develop my own reflections on the year coming to a close in a little more than two weeks.

The Creed goes as follows:

To the world,
I promise temperance, and insight, and courage,
To crusade for justice,
To seek the truth and defend it always:
To those whom my life may touch in slight measure,
May I give graciously of what is mine:
To my friends, understanding and appreciation;
To those closer ones, love that is ever steadfast.
To my mind, growth;
To myself, faith
That I may walk truly
In the light of the Flame.

These are the qualities to which every Delta Zeta promises to aspire. Some days it’s outrageously easy to do, especially when you’re surrounded by like-minded people. On other days, and with other people, it can be incredibly difficult. So with my Creed in hand, I’m going to take a look back at the year it’s been…

“To the world, I promise temperance, and insight, and courage…”

Temperance (n): moderation in action, thought, or feeling (Merriam-Webster)

This year has seen a pretty steep decline in my alcohol consumption – typically the first thing one considers when the word “temperance” comes up. I’ve had a few rowdy nights (and one tipsy afternoon of wine tasting while on vacation), but on the whole I’m just not a fan anymore of drinking until I drop. My priorities have changed, and now I’m more focused on creating a positive environment at home than I am with going out and getting wasted.

I’ve also had one alcohol-related lesson hammered into my head: it’s not a good idea to drink when you’re already upset.

More importantly, however, I’ve begun to embrace moderation of thought. I am loud, outspoken and largely unapologetic. I also have a fierce temper, which I’m chagrined to admit I don’t always bother to control. It’s simpler to just let anger take over, rather than taking a moment to consider the reason for it — and the reasonable object of it. Instead, I’ve tended to take it out on whoever is closest to me at the time. Understanding and controlling my anger, and expressing it in constructive ways, is a process, but one that has already made me a calmer person.

Insight (n.): the power or act of seeing into a situation

It may be hubris, but I like to think that I’ve gained and shared some insight through my posts, discussions, and interactions with people this year. Here are some things I’ve picked up along the way:

  • If someone you know regularly has stories about conflicts with other people, to the point where you consider yourself “fortunate” to be on their good side, reevaluate your position. There will come a day when you join the others on that person’s bad side, and it will be as uncomfortable as it is unexpected.
  • A discussion is over as soon as one person resorts to ad hominem (read: personal) attacks rather than addressing actual points made. The best thing to do is disengage.
  • In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” The important thing in life is to remember that at the end of the day, you are only competing with yourself — anybody who has to put you down to justify their own position isn’t all that secure in their position to begin with.
  • Sometimes it’s necessary to visit the past just to remind yourself that letting it go in the first place was a good decision.
  • When you consistently make 90% of the effort in any relationship, it’s time to let it go, along with the so-called friend who just sits back and lets you.
  • That being said, sometimes we all suck at being friends. Many times real life gets in the way of our plans to make a visit, send a letter, or catch up by phone. It doesn’t mean that we love those friends any less, just that perhaps we need to plan better. I’ve been a bad friend to good friends, and a good friend to bad friends; I’m getting better at distinguishing between the two, and focusing on the good friends — more on that later.

Courage (n.): mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

I don’t think of courage often in my personal life. For me, it doesn’t take courage to get out of bed, to drive to work (except in a blizzard), to do my job. I consider among the courageous the troops in uniform…the spouses and families of those military personnel who kiss their loved one goodbye without knowing when or if they’ll get the chance to kiss them hello…women and men who stand (sometimes alone) against unpopular or harmful thoughts and actions and who fight for principles long ignored.

But I suppose there is courage to be found in some unexpected places. It takes courage to make personal decisions with which you know your loved ones will disagree, and there is a thin line between courage and stupidity when you choose to trust someone who has hurt you in the past.

This year has been an ongoing test of that. Brian and I decided to give our relationship another try in January. By June we had been fighting so much that it seemed like we were finished; after a break, though, we gave things another shot in July. Fast forward to September, and once again he walked away. So in November, when he told me that he finally had things figured out and was truly committed to building the life that we planned to have together, I was torn between following my heart and risking an ever more devastating letdown, or safeguarding it out of fear of a potential end and walking away from the love of my life. I chose to persevere, and while some think (quite vocally) that it was stupidity, I think it might be the defining moment of courage in my year.

So it goes…

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One comment

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