As I tried to chat with the woman sitting across the table her gaze slid away from mine. I scanned the rest of the women in the group only to realize that no one was talking to me. It suddenly occurred to me that the only person interacting with me at this shower was my friend, the bride-to-be.
Then it hit – they didn’t like me! It wasn’t that they disliked me, but they clearly didn’t like me.
So here I was in my worst nightmare. I remember the fear as far back as elementary school, the belief that if I’m not liked, if I’m rejected, then…what? The world would come to an end? Time would stop? I’m not sure what I believed would happen, but that jittering fear was always with me when I thought about social events.
So how did I feel, facing the rejection I’d feared for most of my life?
I was bored.
That’s all. No shrinking into my seat in humiliation, no fervent wishing I was a million miles away. I just realized that it was going to be a long afternoon.
And, as I thought about the group, I understood. Most of the women were suburban moms in their early thirties with kids in elementary school. And there I was, mid-fifties, divorced, with an adult daughter. I was just too different, I think I made them uncomfortable.
Once I realized that no one wanted to talk to me, I settled back in my chair and just let the activity wash around me. Most of the women there had been friends for years – they chatted about their kids, planned potlucks, talked about their husbands. It was pleasant, this murmur of friendship and sharing, even though it didn’t include me. I was an outsider, but it didn’t really matter because no one was paying any attention to me.
I ended up loving that shower, but not for the usual reasons. What I loved was how comfortable I felt even though I didn’t fit in. There was such ease in not loading up the experience with needs – the need for acceptance and approval, the need to be one of the gang. I’d carried the fear of not being liked with me all my life; what a delight it was to find that when the time came to face my fears, they simply vanished.
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