In Defense of Passive
|You can't make this up, folks.|
Perfect name, I thought. It’s a cool neutral, a shade that facilitates other colors without conflicting with them. It’s beautifully, harmoniously passive.
Plus, and this is just between you and me, it tickled me that my new walls celebrate one of my treasured personality traits.
I’m a passive person. When conflict comes along, I go all roly-poly. Rather than demand or confront, I instead encourage and suggest. Yes, I teach and yes, I have some pretty powerful political beliefs, but I prefer to influence others through gentleness and validation. I’m the original facilitator.
Americans aren’t too fond of us passive peeps. Americans in general – not everyone, of course, but speaking of mainstream American cultural – tend to value independence, forthrightness, audacity. We like stories of rebels, we value individuals over communities, we find inspiring those people loud and brash enough to ensure our personal rights get acknowledged and met posthaste. Heroes of all sexes are (metaphorically) large and in charge, loud and cocky. They say things like “Go ahead; make my day”; “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”; “Get away from her, you bitch”; and, of course, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”
|My office walls were once plum. Plum.|
Like me, they're now gloriously passive.
I think we in the West, individual-oriented as we are, tend to regard passivity as a weakness or an unwillingness to commit. If you’re not being aggressive and competitive, you must be a spineless victim-to-be, right? In fact, passive people aren’t weak-willed, boring, or insipid. We simply value situational harmony over individual needs.
Allow me to emphasize that, because it’s kinda key: We passive folks aren’t doormats awaiting the boot. We’re simply group-oriented people whose chief values include ensuring social situations run smoothly. So, for example, when we say, “I’m good with whatever you all decide” when people ask us where we want to go to dinner, we’re not saying we have no opinions or prefer others to dominate the social scene; we’re indicating we value the smooth-running of the situation above our not-very-firm opinions on the subject. We can find something to eat at whatever restaurant; it’s more important to us that most participants’ needs get met.
So, yeah, most passive peeps I know aren’t milquetoast people. Some of us are, in fact, deeply passionate and loving people with firm opinions on multiple topics. But many of us tend to orient ourselves toward the group rather than the individual, and we want to facilitate harmony rather than compete to get our needs met.
|Sometimes neutral is the best starting point.|
Getting back to my new walls, I think they look fabulous. I love how coolly and quietly they sit in the background, matching whatever I throw at them and ensuring my bright colors don’t clash with one another. They’re the perfect facilitators, the ground zero for creativity and brilliance. Although I think of myself as a pretty colorful person, like my passive walls, I’m also content to quietly support and harmonize.