I couldn’t resist passing this clever list from Buzzfeed along to my fellow introverts.
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
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