Wednesday, March 18, 2009

..."I will follow..."

I am such a follower.

I always have been, I think I even wrote in one college scholarship essay that I was more of a follower than a leader, but then I explained the value of a follower. After all, if we were all leaders then how would work ever get done? Who would do it? And we have all heard expressions like "too many chiefs and not enough Indians" or "too many cooks in the kitchen" or whatever that one is. Maybe I am just rationalizing my own fault. But seriously, we can't all be the stereotypical leader, right?

Thoughts of how I am a follower came to me yesterday, after I bought my first Cubs t-shirt. Let me help you understand why this is significant. I grew up in Southern Illinois, where we are closer to St. Louis than Chicago (and tend to disassociate ourselves with Chicago and anything Chicagoan) and my father is a HUGE St. Louis Cardinal's fan. He raised me to love Whitey and Ozzie and Swingin' Stan the Man. The first professional sporting event I ever attended was a Cards game at the old Busch stadium with my father and brother. And a part of me will always feel a loyalty to the Cards. It's probably mostly sentimental.

So, enter my husband, who is a HUGE Cubs fan (as well as Bulls and Bears). In our 5 years together, part of me has been absorbing the hours spent watching Cubs games, not to mention all the sports commentary shows on t.v. (and the radio). Gradually, through watching the games with him and hearing him talk about the team, I got to know the current players, found guys I really liked and wanted to root for, and found myself rooting for the team. I felt the same frustration and devastation (though I am sure not to the extreme level) of other Cubs fans last fall when for the second year in a row they froze in the play offs and got swept.

So, how does this all make me a follower? Michael (my husband) never coerced me into liking the Cubs. I ask myself, if he hadn't been a fan, would I be a fan now? It makes me think about so many other things that I like to do, the shows I like to watch, music I listen to, and I think about how what I like tends to change depending on who I am around. For instance, I didn't play strategy games before I met my husband. In fact, as I think back, I have always tended to take on interests and activities of my boyfriends and friends, but not the other way around. For example, the music I listen to will change depending on who I am spending the most time with, but I am not sure that any boyfriends or friends have ever taken on my musical interests.

I guess a better term to describe me is"easily influenced". Or also "gullible". No, I guess that's a different ball of wax.

I guess by now (almost 30) I would hope that I would have a pretty developed sense of self and who I am and what I like or don't like. Part of me is a natural pleaser. But I guess another part of me is just open to new things and new experiences. But there is a negative connotation to being a "follower". Like we are the people who can't make up our own minds and just mindlessly fall in line and do whatever we are told. I am guilty of this at times. But sometimes I will march to the beat of my own drummer, I just tend to do it quietly.

I hope at some point that I have some interest that is something I discovered and cultivated on my own that I can in turn share with others.


  1. I think that being open to new experiences and interests is a good thing. Some people are too rigid to accept the opinions of others or try something new, and wouldn't THAT be a boring existence!

    That said, I think it is pretty typical for people in committed relationships to start to take on each other's interests (and even characteristics) to an extent.

    There is a danger in being TOO open though, to the point where you conform to the beliefs of others and lose yourself in the process. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, actually (not relative to you, of course!). I agree with you--maintaining your own identity is important!

  2. Yeah, I have always found that maintaining my own identity is hard as I tend to conform to others a little too easily. I am still trying to find a good balance. I was thinking about it though I can say that there are some ways that Michael has conformed to me, like watching Sex and the City or the Today show in the morning. :) But, as I have learned, marriage is definitely a work in progress!