The Middle Ground

middle ground: a position of compromise; a state of thinking where two opposing parties can discuss an issue politely and productively.

I grew up as a Middle Child. When I tell people that I’m a M.C., I typically receive one of two responses: “Ohhh, you have issues…hahaha,” or “Let me buy you a drink.” While being a middle child definitely has its stereotypes, I realize now more than ever how my own experience as a middle child has undoubtedly shaped my adult relationships, at work and in love.

I was fortunate enough to grow up with four other members in my immediate family and when arguments occurred–as they inevitably did–I found myself teetering back and forth between mom and dad, sister and brother. ‘Who’s side should I take?’ (Never did I ask myself: ‘Do I have to take a side?’) For me, each situation represented a yin or a yang, a fight or a flight. While occasionally “caught in the middle,” I usually took a stand on one extreme side or the other.

In my adult life, I’ve noticed that those patterns continue to repeat themselves:

  1. I work hard (at my job/relationship) + I don’t receive the respect I think I deserve = I flee.
  2. I work hard (at my job/relationship) + I don’t receive the respect I think I deserve = I fight.

“Where is your middle ground?” a friend asked me yesterday. I didn’t quite know what she meant. What does it feel like not to flee or to fight? What does it feel like not to feel wildly exuberant and joyful one day and sad, angry, or resentful the next? What’s it like not to let outside circumstances determine those emotions for me?

More importantly, what’s it feel like to receive the respect I think I deserve?

Life’s pendulum will inevitably swing both ways in our lives, taking us from past to future, peace to chaos, love to hatred, and sadness to anger. What I’m beginning to learn (and re-learn) is that we can stop the swaying whenever we want to. We can focus on the middle ground. The present moment. We can realize that the perception of ourselves (and not the situation in which we find ourselves…be it our relationship or job) is actually determining the outcome of our well-being and success.

So go ahead and stand your ground. Start by taking care of yourself and demonstrate, by example, how others should take care of you.

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