Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rage and honor

There is a cheer I used to do when I was a middle-school cheerleader, I'm sure you all know it - "Be Aggressive. B-E Aggressive. B-E-A-GG-R-E-SS-I-V-E" Not exactly Shakespeare, but very effective when your defense is waddling around like little girls and the game is on the line.

I used to be a fairly non-aggressive person, always a bit, um, convinced of my own ideas, shall we say, but overall pretty laid back. As I've mentioned before, this has changed in my time in Africa and I've become much less patient, much more blunt and generally less pleasant to be around. Which has always been a problem but not SUCH a huge one that it required, like, cognitive therapy or anything. Often, being a young white girl in a land of older African dudes, it can even be a benefit.

Today, though, not so much. I got called out by a partner for being too aggressive, they said I behaved badly towards some community organizers we were visiting, that I was too blunt, and amends needed to be made.

Now, obviously, being the girl I am, the minute I get back to Juba I'm breaking out the embossed stiff cards (yes, I have embossed cards in Sudan, I can't help it) and writing thank you notes to everyone under the sun as penance.

But the real crux of the problem is that, swear to god, I can't figure out what I did wrong. I honestly don't see where I was too aggressive. I sat and looked at mushroom farms, I smiled politely while people danced, I asked lots of pertinent questions about composting. I mean, composting, seriously! And did enjoy the efforts.

Is is getting older that makes you meaner? Or is it living here? I really don't know.

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