This is me in our shoebox dorm room my junior year of college. Those yellow slips read “sign out violation notice.” I attended a small, private university in Nashville called Lipscomb. Apparently at 18 I signed a “policy” that I would adhere to the rules and regulations of said university, which included a sign out policy. In other words, I had to leave information with the dorm on where I was spending the night if I stayed out past midnight. If I did stay out past midnight, or one in the morning on weekends, we were not allowed back into the dorm, and were supposed to have left our proper sign out information. This created a situation in which it was a constant battle of the wits to outsmart the head resident, sign out to legitimate but unreachable hosts, or somehow sneak back into the dorm. Most of the time I threw up the proverbial finger and did what I want. Hence these six sign out violations. Sometimes I actually did go home to see my parents. They called once to check up on my sign out information at home. My Dad answered the phone. Big G. And even he didn’t shake this head resident after replying, “I’m looking right at her.” That crow still wanted to actually talk to me.
Somewhere in my rearing I started resisting the “follow the rules” rule. I always toed the line, really closely, and sometimes blatantly bounced right over it with outstretched hands and a take-that face. I didn’t like being told what to do. I still don’t. Dad, I can thank you for this. Alex and I both have this written into our DNA: we do what we want. More so me than Alex. We learned this through the many stories you told us. Like, chasing Mom in high school and telling her you were going to marry her even though she had a boyfriend. Or flattening a**holes on the football field who picked on smaller boys and having to run suicides for it. And just generally saying to the world: this is my life and I will do what I feel. Just call me BOSS, you said. And you are. This did not go over so well for me as a teenager. It sort of translated to: I am doing this my way. If my curfew was 11:00, I came home at 11:05. Close enough, right? I mean, is five minutes really punishable? When teachers or coaches tried to break me like a pony and force me into submission, I fought harder. There were only a small few that fell into this category. Most of my teachers and professors were people I highly respected because they were smart, carried a cool confidence about them, and I wanted them to like me and think I was also smart and confident. But for these few others, the more they tried to force me to respect and fear them, the more indignant and indifferent I became. It infuriated them. And I sort of felt like that was a win. And I thought it was amusing. Exasperated adults in authoritative roles were funny to me, especially when I could reason my way out of punishment.
I think I have finally figured out how to use this trait to my advantage as an adult, and like a chess match I try to make my play count. I break rules now in a way that makes sense, with air-tight explanations and common sense reasoning. I think I grew out of the blatant rule-breaker part, but I am so thankful Dad, perhaps unknowingly, gave me this edge in life. It has helped me stand solidly and unafraid in Regional Directors’ offices, fight for my family, defend my friends, speak truthfully, and make my own way. So, here’s the rule-breakers today, I raise my glass to you.
Happy hump day folks!