Don't Go Crazy


"Don't let them people drive you crazy," my mother told me every time we wrapped up my vent session. She commanded it, with a "you bet' not" tone. Almost as if she knew I was teetering at the edge. She must've known I was one small nudge from flipping. 

Today, I was the recipient of an unwarranted rude e-mail. The old Zoe would've clapped back as nastily - with exclamation marks and capital letters. I would've responded with an e-mail filled of sarcasm, wit and an extra dash of sass. The old Zoe would've drawn an unmistakeable line between the do's and don'ts of communicating with me. The old Zoe would've made the sender of that rude e-mail, never want to e-mail me again. 

But I am not the old Zoe. 

I had to hold back. I swallowed my words to calm the frog in my throat that was ready to jump onto the page of that reply. The frog was ready to snap. To go off. To lose it. But I couldn't, and my mother told me not to. She commanded me not to. 

So I didn't. I politely responded - with no sarcasm, no wit, and only a little bit of sass. And as challenging as giving up that battle felt like relinquishing my power, I realized shortly after that it was quite the opposite. 

The truth is, people are going to take you there. You're going to want to cuss them out, slap them up, and jump quickly out of your character to address the nastiness they've hit you with. You'll feel like power is in retaliation. You'll think that power is the loudest yell. You'll want to believe that power is heightened through fear; through obedience; through asserting your authority. You'll feel powerful hitting someone in the gut with a punch as strong as they hit you with. 

That's not power, though. 

True power lies in controlling yourself in these nasty situations with these nasty people. True power lies in remaining true to yourself and the person you're hoping to become. True power is not letting them snatch you out of that element of growth and honor. True power is zipping up your coat to ensure your character stays within, and does not jump into that e-mail to 'clapback'. True power is remaining calm, gathered and graceful when everything (and everyone) around you is telling you not to. True power is turning the disrespect into a blog post, a song, a movement or a march. True power is owning your situation enough to put out the fire that someone tried to ignite; it's being powerful enough to cut it before it even begins. 

"Don't let them drive you crazy," my mom commanded. Because erasing all the work you've done, only to step back into your past is crazy. Because risking it all for pride is crazy. Because sitting behind your computer drafting angry e-mails and tweets in response to someone else's unhappiness is crazy. Because opening the door to hate and welcoming yourself in is crazy. Because agreeing to be the company that misery loves is crazy. And going crazy is the act of relinquishing your power to the people that drove you there. 

Do not give up your power. 

"Don't let them drive you crazy," rang in my head like bells today, as I battled between reverting back to the old Zoe, and staying right where I was as current Zoe; joyful Zoe; saved Zoe. Luckily for me - and frankly, for her - I decided to keep my power today.  I refused to let her drive me crazy. 

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