On Eternal Vigilance

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Long-time commenter Bunny42 had this to say:

It feels like a crappy way to live, to anticipate negativity everywhere. That seems to encourage a victim mentality. I’ve always believed there’s a kind of aura around people who live in fear, and baddies can home in on that state of mind. A strong, confident woman is much less likely to be accosted than a retiring little mousy woman.

To which I replied:

Seems like a crappy way not to live.
I have many good friends. The reason I have many good friends is that I constantly have a filter up of, “Are these people taking advantage of me? Are they involving me in unwise decisions? Are they hurting people unnecessarily?”
You’re all like, “But you must be a mousy woman!” No. I’m actually the strong, confident person who’s much less likely to be accosted by drama-freaks – and I am that way because I continually check. I’d be mousy if I did as you suggested and didn’t actually interrogate reality on a regular basis, and then got abused at what seemed like random intervals because I didn’t bother to look. I’d feel uncertain because life would feel out of control, thinking why are some of my friends so crazy? and feeling like drama was like thunder, just appearing sporadically with no warning at all. I’d be afraid, because bad shit would happen and I’d have no incoming radar at all to see it coming.
I don’t live in fear. I live in honesty. And yes, I’m watchful, but I think it’s the sheerest foolhardiness to abandon safety just so you can relax.
There is a distinct difference.

I am constantly on-guard for some things.  But that doesn’t make me a negative person, because one can be on-guard for relevant questions such as, say, “Am I about to be fired from work?” without letting that become a fearful future.  I can acknowledge that yeah, being fired is a possibility, and as such keep checking in with my bosses to make sure I’m doing my job to their liking.
That’s not living in fear of an uncertain future: that’s gathering feedback, and reacting appropriately.  Because there have been a couple of times I’ve displeased by bosses mightily by not doing the work they expected of me.  Staying aware let me get back in the groove.
I think that one of the keys to good relationships is to always keep in mind that your friends can fuck you over, whether they mean to or not, and patrolling that boundary to ensure that things don’t get out of hand.  That’s not a negative thing.  I don’t expect them to do it, because they’re my friends.  But if something makes me go “Hrm,” then I follow up on that.
It doesn’t make me continually afraid.  It makes me one of those confident people.  I’m confident if something starts to slide south, I’m ready for it.  Which makes me enjoy the good times – which are the bulk of my time with my friends – all the more.

1 Comment

  1. Sandra
    Dec 6, 2014

    Absolutely, yes. You can be alert and aware without being afraid or un-selfconfident. In fact, I think that being aware of potential danger and able to handle it if it arises adds a lot to my self-confidence.

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