The Crooked and the Straight

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 in Creativity, Joy, Kaizen-Muse | 2 comments

The Crooked and the Straight

My office recently moved from the first floor to the fourth, and I’m sure everyone wonders why I keep looking out the window at the parking lot when I’m on that side of the building. Here’s a shot of the view (click to enlarge):

1x1.trans The Crooked and the Straight

I know, I know—parking lots are just so exciting! But there’s a reason I’m intrigued.

The gold car toward the middle is mine, you see. And this fascination started with me being a bit of a perfectionist about my parking skills. Since a lot of us back into those spaces (which makes it much easier to get back out), I was curious to know how crooked my parking job was. Most of the time? More crooked than I’d like it to be (says my Inner Perfectionist, of course!).

Over time, though, I noticed something. Sure, my car was crooked. But take a look at the ones around it. Notice anything?

Yup. My car is almost perfectly parallel to the ones on each side. Even though I opened the door a few times to see how I was doing compared to the lines, I ended up following the other cars instead.

How many times do we know where we want to be—we can even see the lines guiding us to the right place—but end up not quite making it because, without even realizing we did it, we gauged ourselves not on the goal we were aiming for but the people around us?

How many times do you mean to set aside time for yourself but get sucked into something with friends?

How many times do you want to stay out of a political or religious conversation but end up saying something you’re not sure you should have said later?

How many times do you find yourself wanting to start work on a new painting but your ideas are all drowned out by the echo of friends or family asking why the heck you waste your time and money on art?

How many times do you do what everyone else expects of you because it’s just easier than hearing and honoring what YOU really want? (Click to tweet this!)

If none of these questions resonate with you, congratulations: you’re doing a great job of taking care of yourself and standing on your own. If they feel all too familiar, though, it might just be time to re-evaluate the way your friends and family influence your relationship with yourself. More specifically, how do they influence the way you love, honor, and respect yourself?

If this exercise makes you wish for a new way of relating to yourself, for a way to really hear what’s important to YOU, check out My Funny Valentine: Loving Ourselves Warts and All. It’s my new course, which starts on September 8, and in it, we’ll discuss ways to focus on the positive, to trust our intuition, handle perfectionism, and really be good to ourselves. In six weeks, you’ll have a toolbox to help you navigate life in relation to your own straight path, without letting others unconsciously make things more crooked than you had in mind. Join us!


  1. Wow, Nancy – I really wish I could say that I didn’t follow other people’s expectations… but the reality is that it’s been a pattern for most of my life that I’m only now starting to unravel and work on.

    I really loved your parking metaphor… it made me smile (and wince a little, because I suspect I do the same kind of thing!)
    Tanja @ Crystal Clarity recently posted..Fall down seven times, stand up eight: trying out a new productivity systemMy Profile

    • Thanks, Tanja! The parking really surprised me. For weeks I looked out and ragged on my parking skills—and then I noticed that actually, I was right in line. I just had to include the cars around me to see it. :) And I bet most of us do the same thing, too. We just don’t notice.

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