Friday, November 5, 2010

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ~ Mary Engelbreit

I admit it. I'm one long-winded person. I am known for my epic-length comments, for my epic-length emails. I don't know when to "put a cork in it", like I'm always telling me grandson Cooper on his fussy days. And here is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I left this comment a day or two ago on a friend's blog:

"People assume – wrongly – that I have hundreds of friends. I have hundreds of acquaintances but only a small core of what I would describe as true friends and most of them come from my childhood/young adulthood. My daughter tells me I give off a very friendly vibe upon meeting people but, with that said, I don’t give the impression that I want to take it any further. Yet, complete strangers will open up to me and tell me their life stories. I don’t ‘do’ confidences in return. I am very guarded that way. This is a conundrum to me. I used to waste endless hours and energy worrying about it like a dog with a bone. And then I finally came to the realization that I am who I am and accepted myself for who I am. God made each of us unique. We see and know our inner turmoils but the outside world doesn’t unless we open up and let them in. Honestly, in retrospect, there have been a lot of experiences I wouldn’t share with the world for anything. I have enough social contact to keep me content. I used to yearn for more but at this stage of the game I really don’t think I’m going to change much, if at all. And, again in all honesty, crowds make me anxious. Large gatherings of people do too. My little corner I’ve created really does suit my needs."

I am going to open up and let you in.

What she wrote about was a retrospect on friendships thru a lifetime. It was gut-wrenchingly honest. It resonated with a lot of people. It resonated with me. In many ways I'm a social misfit. I've never run with a crowd. I've never been in the 'in' group. I spent a lot of school lunch times sitting by myself eating my sandwich once we moved to Vancouver. I never got asked to a dance. I wasn't invited to many slumber parties. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I had a lot of deep resentment towards those who did have those things. I, too, was very inward focused instead of outward facing. And that's a very selfish way to live, inward focused. It's also a very isolated way to live. We think everything revolves around us. That everyone is aware of us. That they're scrutinizing us, judging us, making fun of us. That they're thinking there is absolutely nothing right about us.

And this, at long last, I've learned is not true. Think about it. How much time do you give thought to the people around you? That their hair looks funny? They didn't tweeze that one eyebrow hair so their eyebrows aren't balanced? Their shoes aren't polished. They walk pigeon-toed. One ear is slightly higher than the other. Their fingernails are bitten. Their fingernails are too long. Do any of us really scrutinize people to the degree insecure people believe they do?

One of the weirdest hang ups I ever had was about my fingers. I thought I had hairy knuckles. I thought everyone who looked at me, when I was ages 13 to 17, noticed nothing but my hairy knuckles. And why did I think they were hairy? I look at them now and you can hardly see the tiny golden hairs there. And yet I was sure I looked like an ape.

I was sure when I ate out in restaurants as a teen that every eye of every person was watching me as I ate. And the more paranoid I became about it, the sloppier I became. I can't tell you how many times my mom would sigh and say, "If you'd just relax! No one is looking at you." But in my hyper state of self-awareness I couldn't...wouldn't...believe her.

Somewhere along the line I reinvented myself. Or maybe I found myself again. The me I am now is very much like the little girl I was back when my world was secure and happy. Somewhere along the line I got tired of that miserable person I was, who felt unliked. Feeling unloved is bad enough, but unliked is a thousand times worse. For almost all of us, there's someone out there who loves us. But to be unliked? That undermines the very foundation of who we are, how we perceive our self worth. If we don't feel like the world likes us, it's almost impossible for us to like ourselves.

I do have a tendency to ramble. And I have a tendency to brood on such things. I know why I like someone, but I still have a hard time figuring out why someone might like me.


Betty said...

I like you because..... you "ramble on"........
because.......... you "over-think" some things and
because.......... you are a good friend!
I can understand why strangers tell you their life stories. You are a good listener and sometimes that´s what those people needed.
I´m glad you are at peace with yourself. Because that is what I feel from you.
Many blessings for your Sunday, my friend!

Rob-bear said...

I'm an introvert, who has had to live like an extrovert in order to get along as a fairly public figure. I've never felt I have a lot of friends, but there are lots of people who trust me and open their hearts to me. I occasionally do that, to a few, and (more recently) on my blog.

Mostly, though, I'm learning to be comfortable in my own introverted skin, recognizing that I love peacefulness over noise, solitary over crowded, and worthwhile over ephemeral.

That said, I'm as socially active as I can be, despite my medical disability. But I tend to be more task-oriented than relationship-oriented. Do the job and then head for the peace and quiet of home. Putter at projects, getting jobs done a piece at a time.

Well, whatever.

LC said...

You are articulated what a lot of us have experienced. And yes, we either reach that point you have . . . or we don't and spiral into a bitter, discontented, hardly ever pleased individual. Thanks for this life-affirming "ramble."

kmalone775 said...

Gosh Kris, are you sure you & I aren't twins by different mothers? I guess that can't be since I'm older than you but wow I can so relate!