Friday, February 20, 2009

Thank you

One of my dearest friends and I caught up over lunch the other day. She is the kind of friend that you always want to have. The kind that pulls no punches and will tell you the honest truth when you ask (and even sometimes when you don't). This time I asked though, and I brought up something about myself that was bothering me. A long conversation ensued about self deprecating humor. And about how I lean on it way too often. And how I never accept a compliment outright. And sometimes, it comes off as if I am not happy with my situation and even possibly envious. Wow. I never realized that my snide comments, mostly about myself, came off that way. But, it's true. I do have a hard time just saying "thank you" when someone pays a compliment. If you tell me you love my necklace, I will immediately remind you that I am only wearing it to detract from my waistline. There are millions of reason why, but who cares really? The point is, I care how people see me, and this is not something I would characterize as a good quality about myself.

You see, we are all taught to be our own person and not care what anyone else thinks, but I have a different opinion. I think to some extent you are who people perceive you to be. The reality lies not in your mind, who you think you are, but how you affect the people around you. And if someone I respect tells me, I should learn to accept a compliment and tone down the sarcasm a little, then you'd better be sure I am going to work on that.

That doesn't mean that I rely entirely on outside feedback to define who I am, but if you are the only person who would describe yourself as a rocket scientist, then who is going to ask you to build their spaceship? It is a balance of both really, who you want to be and whether you are really putting that out there.

The truth is, I don't really fail at things as much as I just flail around downplaying what I am doing, meanwhile skipping all the way down the path to grandmothers house. The woods are scary! I look terrible in red! This hood makes my face look a little chunky! I hope she likes my treats! Then I kick the wolf in the teeth, save grandma, and we all live happily ever after. I worry and fret and tell everyone I failed the test and then get the highest grade in the class. It winds up being a jumbled mess of wanting people to know I am doing well and then being too embarrassed (or something else?) to take in the well wishing that might result. I fall on my face a ton too, but it all gets mixed in with the good stuff until it is possibly just all the same.

Again, there are a zillion reasons why I have evolved into this person, but none of that is as important as the fact that I don't really want to be this way. I want to seem open and loving and not snide or worse, jealous. That is not to say I can banish the sarcasm. It is, after all, a coping mechanism for me. But I can tone it down. I can say "thanks, I love this necklace too." I can certainly recognize that there is a time and a place for witty banter. I can. I want to.

1 comment:

Beth said...

I think your comments are right on base. We stress ourselves out too much to just be us!