Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stalwart

One of the nicest things you can say to me is that I’m a reliable person. While I can be a little unpredictable at times, I’m also a principled person, and one of those principles is reliability. When I make a promise, I make good on that promise. And I don’t go about it halfway, either. While I was learning about writing rules, I came to the conclusion that lots of these rules can be applied to real life as well. Which is why I try to be as non-clichéd as possible in how I go about my business (which maybe makes me a little eccentric at times), and also why I like to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk (this would tie in with “show, don’t tell”; admittedly, apart from “walking the walk”, I often “talk the talk” as well, so technically I both show and tell, but practiced writers will tell you that it’s really a matter of finding a balance between the two, rather than banning one or the other). 
    Stalwart means ‘loyal’, ‘reliable’ and ‘hard-working’. By extension, it can also mean ‘headstrong’, ‘stubborn’ and ‘tenacious’, as people who work hard and are reliable tend to go to some lengths to make sure that they realize what they set out to do. Stalwart is a rather exceptional word in the history of this blog, as its origins are, for once, not latinate. It is actually an English word through-and-through, arriving in modern English via the Scottish word ‘stalworth’, which in turn derives from the Old English ‘stælwierðe’, probably a contracted compound of ‘staðol’ (‘base’, ‘foundation’, ‘support’ or ‘stability’, ‘security’) and ‘wierðe’ (‘good’, ‘excellent’, ‘worthy’). In other words, a good ol’ English word, which you can count upon to be a 100% English Language Original.
      Though I would generally call myself a diplomat, and am willing to make compromises, I can also be very stalwart when I set my mind to something. This is often to my own detriment, because once I get an idea in my head - no matter how outlandish or convoluted it is - I will push myself to the brink of exasperation to bring that idea into actualization. In most cases, I’m the butt of my own joke, and I can scowl at myself, but it gets a bit annoying once other people get involved into my outlandish schemes, because people will never behave the way you want them to. People are irksome like that. 
     Something else which doesn’t always rhyme with my stalwart disposition is life. Life is like a cat: it never does what you want it to, it’s capricious, it demands attention and it starts messing with you at the worst possible moments. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, you still love it. Admittedly, the metaphor isn’t completely waterproof, because while I will lovingly put up with my cat’s caprices, when life starts acting like a 15-year-old boy I generally will not take it very well. Because dammit, this is not the way I wanted it to go.    
    Over the last couple of months several people have told me, in an awed kind of way, that they think I’m a very strong person. Maybe because of what I’ve been through this year, or because I try to treat my problems in an adult kind of way; I’m not sure. I don’t know on what these people base their belief. I suppose I might be strong. But that’s not what it feels like to me. So let’s debunk some myths about stalwartness. 
    For one, it doesn’t make you feel invincible. At least, I don’t experience it like that. I just see it as the way in which I handle things. I see it as the only way in which I ought to handle things. Secondly, so-called “strong” people don’t consider this quality to be particularly enviable. In fact, I often feel like the people who call me strong get the better part of the deal. Because often, strong people are only strong because they have to be. Because it’s the only way to stay alive. And that’s the worst possible reason to develop strength. Happiness happens when you can afford to let go. Strength, on the other hand, is a state necessitated by circumstances. Often, when people tell me in an awed kind of way that they think I’m a very strong person, I feel a bit bitter about that, because to me it doesn’t feel like “being strong” did me a whole lot of good. Showing resilience against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune may seem admirable to those who aren’t experiencing the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Those who are, however, would really rather want the universe to cooperate for once.   
    And yet, exactly because I am stalwart, I will persevere if I believe that somehow, somewhere, there must be a way to beat the odds, no matter how uncooperative the universe might be. This is a battle which I wage daily, for example when it comes to writing. I have now finished my manuscript, and am desperately looking for someone versed in the ways of the publishing industry to read the damn thing, simply because I’d like to know whether it’s publishable. However, the people I had in mind for this role seem unwilling to take on the job. Which I understand, but in my stalwartness I feel like they’re deliberately thwarting my attempts at authorship. This is mildly exasperating. But me and my stalwartness will find a way around that problem, I suppose. Hopefully.
    Stubborn people will make your life difficult. I can be terribly annoying at times, striving for a goal like a petulant child whines for a toy it absolutely has to have. In those cases you have to make the consideration whether your goal is more important, or your relationship. If I consider the goal more important, I notice that indeed, I can be quite annoying. I stay polite about it, but I am persistent. Because allegedly, bitches get stuff done. I’m not sure whether this apothegm is entirely correct, but I have noticed from past experiences that there is some validity in it. And I will add that my stalwartness often has relationships as a goal, as well. My personal goals are important to me, of course, but I take my friendships very seriously. In my opinion, therefore, stalwartness is a good quality to have, in every aspect of your life. I’m probably biased, though.   

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