It’s True – They Might Not Like You

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.

Copyright © 2010    From The Easy Place

Friending Facebook

I love Facebook and its vast accumulation of in-the-moment thoughts and emotion.  As my friend Jenny puts it, Facebook is “the world’s conversation.”  News, gossip, events, from the significant to the trivial, flow full force like water from a fire hose.  However, as fun as all that activity is, it’s also easy to get lost in that flood of information.  Our little voice is one of thousands, and we can end up with hurt feelings if we don’t adjust our expectations.

I’ve found Facebook to be a great place to practice the art of not overreacting.  One thing that pushes my buttons is being ignored, and on Facebook being ignored is an everyday occurrence. Our posts get lost in our friends’ rapidly moving news feeds, and, even worse, people we reach out to can literally ignore our requests to connect.  I must have sent three friend requests to one poor guy I knew in high school before I realized that every time he received one he was clicking his “Ignore” button.  Whoops.

In order to enjoy Facebook we need to let go of expectations and accept our tiny place in the gigantic flow.  We’ve got to get comfortable with the fact that we’ll often be invisible, that our posts may not be acknowledged, that our voice will blend into the group’s.  We’ve got to learn to accept rejection with grace or at least neutrality, and not make up stories about why someone doesn’t answer us or why they don’t want us in their circle of friends.

Because Facebook can truly be a delight.  With Facebook I know I can stay connected with my childhood friend Donna no matter how far away she is.  I can watch the blossoming of my second cousin’s three daughters even though I’ve never met them.  I can hear what Tim Gunn has to say about Project Runway, and I can see a picture of my daughter’s driveway, covered with snow, a minute after she snaps the photo.

And I get the opportunity to make my own contribution, however small, to the world’s conversation.

Copyright © 2010    From The Easy Place

The Illusion of Control

I love being in control – having things just right and knowing that they’re going to stay that way.  There’s nothing better than the knowledge that if I plan carefully and get the people around me to do things right, everything will go perfectly.   

And that is a summation of the illusion of control.  The belief that by controlling the people and circumstances around us we can make things work out “right”.   And who defines “right”?  We do of course.  Those of us who love control also believe that our vision is the correct one.

You are under my controlIt’s taken me decades to realize the emptiness of that belief.  To understand that it’s all an illusion, that we believe things are in control simply because they’re going as we want them to.  When things go smoothly, we relax, sitting comfortably in the certainty that our planning and preparation has worked.   When things don’t go as planned they’re suddenly “out of control.”

Honestly, it makes me tired just to read this post.  All that energy put into trying to arrange the unarrangable.  The truth is, while our efforts do contribute to positive or negative results in our lives, we can only improve our chance for success, not guarantee it. Most of us can’t pass a test without studying for it, but we’ve all encountered the unhappy truth that studying alone doesn’t ensure an A.

Pursuing the belief that we can control the universe is distracting, wastes our energy and (take it from me) can be extremely annoying to the people around us.  The antidote, I think, is trust.  Trust that others also know what they’re doing.  Trust that catastrophe won’t befall us if we let go of the reins and let life take its natural course.

And trust in ourselves and the knowledge that if things don’t work out “right” we can handle it.

Copyright © 2010    From The Easy Place