I have recently noticed a disturbing trend: when I'm shopping, or walking through a store, and encounter a strange situation (a ladder across an aisle, an employee stocking something in the way of everyone), people tend to follow my lead or do what I do (carefully tiptoe over the ladder, sneak past the employee).
I have never, in my life, been a leader. I do not have the qualities necessary. I'm extremely good at streamlining my own day, acting in a manner that is extremely disciplined and specific, but I'm really terrible at explaining how to organize to other people, or how to do anything, actually. I'm bad at giving directions. I'm a bad leader. I just am. I have many strengths, but leading others is not one of them.
And yet, when approaching a Starbucks the other day, I decided to awkwardly stand in what I hoped looked like an "I'm next" line format. I then found other people lining up behind me. "No," I wanted to say, "I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just standing here. I could be wrong. Do not follow my lead!"
Along with being a poor leader, I've always assumed I exude a feeling of "I'm totally clueless"-ness to other people, especially while out in public. I have walked into doors, nearly knocked over displays, and generally shown myself to be very, very bad at carrying myself with confidence and a sense of assuredness. The idea that someone else sees me standing directionless in a Starbucks and thinks, yes, this person knows what they're doing! is shocking to me.
I've been noticing more and more that I don't feel quite as useless deciding what to do as I used to. While standing in line at the grocery store on Saturday (a surprisingly busy Saturday morning), a woman was pulled into a newly opened line and, as she moved, an elderly man tried to cut in front of me. A few years ago, I would have let him cut in line, standing awkwardly behind him. Instead, I moved up and tried to look confident in my decision to cut him off. I might have absolutely no idea what I'm doing standing in a line to buy bananas and bread, but I do know that I'd already been standing in line for a few minutes... and he hadn't been.
I don't want to say I'm more confident than I used to be. But in recent months (and especially since being pregnant), I've stopped being willing to let other people push me around simply because I didn't know what to say to stop it from happening. In terms of people following my lead, I wonder if this comes off as confidence in my decisions.
I need some kind of physical disclaimer that explains, despite my apparent confidence, that I actually have no idea if this is where the line starts, or how to order coffee, or if this outfit is appropriate, because while I look like I know what I'm doing, I really don't, but that doesn't mean you can cut in front of me, either.