Monday, August 17, 2009

Q: When is a triangle not a triangle? A: When it becomes another way to question yourself.

I spend a lot of time on the phone every day. Not only do I work very closely with colleagues in another location, I also speak to clients in different parts of the country all day. Many times I'm actually involved in a conversation; but almost as often, I'm on a conference call with the mute button activated. And while I'm sitting, listening and trying to stay alert, I often find myself doodling in pencil (always in pencil) in my spiral notebook.

I've done this for years and years, mostly to pass the time and keep myself awake during sometimes tedious calls that I'm positive mean almost nothing to me, professionally or personally. Always - always! - I doodle triangles. The other day, because I like to torture myself with information that will likely cause me anxiety, I had to look up the meaning of doodling, particularly doodling triangles.

I checked out

You ready for this? Here's how the site describes the personality of someone who doodles triangles: an aggressive personality; highly competitive. That's just super. Then I wondered: is there something inherently wrong with this definition? Is there something absolutely negative about the word "aggressive?" And what about the phrase "highly competitive?" In the following context, you would call the person being described as admirable and praiseworthy: "Her aggressive approach to pursuing those who commit crimes against children is legendary." Or what about this? "Her highly competitive streak consistently served her clients well as she aggressively pursued a fair deal for them."

Sure, those sound positive. But I was still not all that pleased. Maybe it's the idea of an "aggressive personality" that was so off-putting. Does that sound like code for a nasty, in-your-face person? And does "highly competitive" really describe someone who is an ambitious climber who kicks you out of the way as she climbs the corporate ladder? Maybe that's me being too sensitive to nothing but words.

But if I were really someone who is too sensitive to stuff like this, wouldn't I be doodling something other than triangles? Like hearts or flowers or circles? Seems to me, the proper response to an assessment like this would be "You said it! That's exactly what I am!" And since I didn't react that way, I'd guess that maybe I'm doodling triangles under false pretenses. Maybe I used to be aggressive and highly competitive and the triangles are lingering from that point of my life. Maybe I hit a certain age and all the aggression in me disappeared as completely as my original hair color.

So what do your doodles say about you? I'd love to know, But I'll bet mine are better than yours. (Can't help myself. That competitive streak, you now?)

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