Once upon a time, someone called me flighty.

I took it personally, and it offended me. For years, I walked around with it hanging over my head like a little cloud. I wondered if everyone had known this about me except for, well, me.

“Hi, don’t talk to me, because I’m flighty.”

“Oh, you want me to do something for you? Well, you might wanna rethink that, because I’m one of those flighty types.”

“Looking for someone responsible? Move along, nothing to see here. I’m flighty.”

But then I decided I’d try to embrace it. Maybe it was one of those words I could bend and shape and make fit. Maybe I’d be the person that people would call on a whim to go somewhere crazy or fun or adventurous and I’d never give a second though to dropping everything and going, or maybe I could finally be seen in a more casual light, instead of the serious, hard-working, go-to-bed-on-time, remember-to-call-home light. I’d call myself flighty when the conversation accommodated it, and people would look at me strangely. Finally, one day someone asked me if I knew what it meant.

The answer I gave was the story about how “flighty” came to apparently describe me. I explained that I was offered a different job at the place I was working, and that at first I was excited and accepted it — like, right there on the spot. But then I went home, thought about it, and decided that I’d get far more experience if I stayed in the role that I was in, so…I ended up passing on the other opportunity altogether.

“That’s not flighty, that’s smart,” was the reply. “You thought about what it was you really wanted to do, and you made sure you stayed on the path you wanted to be on.”

Hm. So I wasn’t flighty after all? I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or frustrated. Perhaps I’d struggled with the word unnecessarily all those years when, in reality, it was an off the cuff remark that wasn’t serious in the first place. Maybe the person who used it didn’t know what else to say to me at the time, so he thought he’d toss it in my face to see if it stuck. Well, it stuck for a while, and while I do consider myself occasionally spontaneous, as well as someone who will sign up for a class on a whim or buy a concert ticket at the last minute (living dangerously, right?), I don’t know that flighty was ever a good fit for me. Nor do I know why I ever wanted it to be.

Tonight I am thankful for being grounded enough to know when I need to allow myself to drift up into the clouds, and for being responsible to the point of knowing when I have a responsibility to myself to cut loose.

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