Thursday, November 05, 2015

I used to think I liked ice-dancing better than pairs figure skating ... but I don't.

Today I'm linking up with Sarah Bessey for a synchroblog celebrating the release of her new book Out of Sorts. The theme she chose for this linkup was "I used to think __ but now I think __." 

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I've never figure skated (I can't even skate backwards), but I've always loved watching figure skating.  My mom loved it, too.  When I lived at home we used to enjoy watching the World Championships or Olympics together and commenting on our favourite skaters.

In figure skating competition there are single men's and single women's events, as well as two doubles events. One of the doubles events is ice-dancing, in which the skaters perform intricate dance steps; the other is pairs, in which the man throws and lifts the woman and they do many simultaneous side-by-side moves.

My mom always said she liked ice-dancing better than pairs, and I said I did, too.

But one day I realized I don't.  I don't like ice-dancing better; I like pairs better.

I've always had trouble making up my own mind about things.  Maybe it has something to do with being a Type Six on the Enneagram:  Sixes are hesitant to trust their own thinking and often absorb others' opinions rather than forming their own.  As the article I've linked here puts it, Sixes "have the most trouble contacting their own inner guidance. As a result, they do not have confidence in their own minds and judgments."

I don't know if other people would see me that way, but I definitely see myself that way -- and I think that's what was happening with the figure-skating thing. It wasn't that my mom said "You have to like what I like"; she had strong opinions, but she didn't insist that I share them.  The problem was in me: I tended not to trust my own judgment, so I assumed I was probably wrong and that the other person, who was speaking out so confidently, was right.

But then one day (and it took at least 20 years for this to happen) I suddenly thought, "Wait a minute -- no. Pairs skating is thrilling! I love watching the female skater fly through the air and land smoothly on one skate, or seeing the two skaters do a jump together, spinning and landing in perfect sync. That's the one I like better."

It was a small thing, but significant. There was no Right or Wrong in a larger sense -- both kinds of figure skating are good, and it really doesn't matter which you prefer -- but there was a right or wrong for me. And I realized it was OK for me not to like what someone else liked; I could choose what I liked.

I'm a lot better than I used to be at stating my personal preference, especially in situations where the stakes are low. I don't waffle indecisively at restaurants, waiting to hear what others are ordering before making up my own mind.  (Mmmm ... waffles ...)

But I still struggle with distrusting my own inner voice and wisdom. In moments of uncertainty or conflict I still find myself holding back, letting others who are more decisive and articulate take over, and assuming that I'm probably wrong or that I must have misjudged the situation. A while back I was talking to my pastor about a problem; after asking many helpful questions, he said, "You know, you may just need to recognize the possibility that you did the right thing." It's a little ironic, I suppose, that I needed someone else to remind me to trust my own judgment.

I don't watch figure skating that often anymore, and I'll never again watch it with my mom, but I still think of it as a symbol of freedom Not just the freedom skaters must feel as they soar through the air or skim across the ice, but the freedom to think for myself.  To form my own opinions and, if the opportunity is right, express them.  To trust -- humbly, yet confidently -- in my own inner guidance. 


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30 comments:

  1. I love this analogy --not only because I enjoy pairs figure skating the most too :) -- but I appreciate so much the freedom that comes with being able to trust ourselves. As an introvert who doesn't like to be center-stage for anything, I relate to choosing to be silent, doubting my opinion matters. Great post of encouragement!

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    1. Thanks so much, Jessica -- I appreciate your encouraging words and it's nice to hear from someone who can relate! I am really looking forward to reading the other posts on Sarah's linkup, including yours. (I think I'll have to clear my schedule...)

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  2. That feeling of freedom when sliding along the ice and the freedom to like what you like. Both are blessings of God's grace. Thanks for reminding me, Jeannie.

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    1. You're welcome, Tim. I appreciate your comment!

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  3. I have not done the enneagram, though it is on my list of want-tos, but I have this problem, too. When I was in college, a friend wanted to make me a birthday cake and asked what my favorite kind was. I didn't know, so I said white with white frosting. Can you get more boring than that?? It would have been fine if that was the right answer but it wasn't even close. I just wanted to give AN answer. (The answer now is Boston cream pie or ice-cream cake.) :) It's so freeing when we realize, "Hey, I actually like that thing and that's okay!" Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Hi Lisa - I appreciate your comment. I know exactly what you mean: "It would have been fine if that was the right answer but it wasn't even close." That's a great example.

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  4. You're wrong: you like ice-dancing more. Pfffbbtt.

    ....Let me try that again: Good post, sister. [Really, she's my sister, so I can talk to her like that.]

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    1. Behave yourself or I'll do a Torvill & Dean on you.

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  5. Isn't it interesting how the enneagram is so accurate? (I'm a type 4, and the basic fear of having no stable identity is one that I've wrestled with for years. And, sheesh, the "unhealthy" levels of a Type 4 are scarily accurate, particularly during my college years.)

    I like what your pastor said. I think many of us need someone else to confirm that we've chosen wisely and to trust our own judgement. That can be problematic, of course, depending on a fallible, finite human for confirmation; we need to trust God's guidance. I had to do that recently with my older daughter. She had forgotten her school-issued ipad and emailed me, begging me to bring it to school. "I'll lose my participation points for the day!!" It was tough, but I knew that unless she learns the hard lesson of personal responsibility now, she might be having to learn it later, when the stakes are higher than five points of a daily grade. I said no. I had to decide on my own, using my best judgement; no one else was available to ask, except God. (BTW, he said I had chosen well.)

    Still, for those of us who question our own judgment (or, in my case, my own mind's sanity), another person's wisdom helps. I love that your pastor was able to tell you that!

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    1. I agree with you completely, Laura, about needing to be cautious about depending on human confirmation -- especially because that is exactly what the Six tends to do: look to other people! So the irony of it wasn't lost on me at that moment. But I agree with you that our inner voice, and even the outer voices of other people, are not infallible. It's so easy just to go with what we want to hear because it is more comfortable and reinforces our own prejudices.

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  6. I love this! A different take on it and an important reminder it ok to have our own thoughts and beliefs. So freeing!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer - I appreciate your coming by to read, and I'm glad it spoke to you.

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  7. Tending not to trust my own judgment and assuming that the person speaking more confidently is right is a HUGE stumbling block for me. Thanks for illustrating it so well.

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    1. I appreciate your comment, Rea -- thanks. It sounds like you might be an introvert like me. We introverts need to unite! (In small, quiet groups, of course.)

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  8. Love this! Can so relate! I have been made aware recently that the strong bullying forceful voices, or even thoughts of them, have drowned out what God has revealed. A lot! I am SO wanting to Hear Him and push the other aside! Thanks for this!

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    1. You're welcome, Nancy -- so nice to hear from you.

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  9. I'm a six. I don't know whether I prefer pairs or ice dancing. Shopping for clothes is a nightmare, and I'm hopeless at decorating...

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    1. I'm with you, Ellie! I don't mind the clothes-shopping part so much (hell-O Value Village!) but the other stuff, yeah.

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  10. This: "To trust -- humbly, yet confidently -- my own inner guidance." is what we finally come to with faith matters too. It's all too easy to absorb another's way of doing, being and thinking, isn't it? That moment when we realise we've decided on something just because it's right for us is so freeing. I love your take on this topic. May you continue to skate freely as you also enjoy watching others dance. Blessings. :)

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    1. Thanks, Joy -- I really appreciate your stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

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  11. Hi - I'm making my way around the Sarah Bessey synchroblogs after posting my own (and boy, is it a LOT of blogs to make my way through...).

    I've never done an enneagram, although I think I'd like to. I've never had much trouble with having forceful opinions, although reading this does make me want to be more careful about how I express them and whether or not other people feel pressured to agree. Hm. It's not something I'd really thought of before.

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    1. Hi Katie - I appreciate your stopping by and commenting. Yes, 100+ blog posts to read ... but I do want to visit them all!

      I see what you mean about being careful how you express your opinions, yet I still think the problem is more me than other people. It's something I still have to work on.

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  12. Hurray for freedom to express our own opinions. To be different. To stand out if what we think is different. I've never felt stifled to express opinions, but I DO waffle indecisively at restaurants! Trying to get over that and learn to decide already.

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    1. That's so funny, Betsy -- how when we get to a restaurant we just want to "get it right" and not regret our decision. Once I went to lunch with a group of about 12 women from church. After we'd finished our entree the waitress asked if anyone wanted dessert & I decided yes, I did. You would have thought I'd decided to fly to the moon, the way all the other women commented on it. But it was so good nom nom nom...

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  13. So lovely, Jeannie! I haven't been able to figure out yet what Enneagram type I am (though my long time spent deliberating makes me wonder if I am a 6 too), but regardless, I can relate to the struggle to trust one's own opinions. Loved your example too. Grace and peace to you. :)

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  14. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting on my post. This blog linkup is great -- I'm still checking out the many posts people have written.

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  15. I love this and totally relate to the tendency to think other people are right.

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    1. Thanks, Ellen - I appreciate your coming by and commenting!

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  16. You're speaking my language here, Jeannie! Figure skating is one of my favourite events at the Olympics. I love how you took something that seems small and then show how those very things tip our cards for what's really going on. the metaphor is so applicable for so many of us in so many areas of life. freedom here - thank you!

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    1. Thanks Sarah -- I knew as a Canadian girl that you could relate! :-) Thanks for stopping by. You must be enjoying all the linkup posts. I read a number of them, and they were wonderful. You opened some floodgates with your prompt.

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