It was a random question pulled from a deck of ‘table topics’ – one of those annoying icebreaker games used at networking events to spark interesting conversation. Not my typical shtick, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. (SEEMED, being the operative word.)
Until that point in the evening, two of my dear friends, my significant other, his 18 year-old daughter and I sat around the table after a Labor Day barbecue, enjoying a few bottles of wine and a lively conversation. The question turned me sideways.
My internal chatter jumped several decibels as I scrambled for a response, “Do I answer honestly? Will answering ‘getting out of bed’ throw up too many red flags?”
I landed back in the moment when the youngest person at the table announced, “The fear of being judged -- at least that’s mine.” I sucked in my breath amazed and impressed with her honesty. No guile, no bullshit, just the truth.
Now mind you, this is an 18-year-old woman preparing to start her freshman year at a top university. She represents the picture of accomplishment, thus far. Her potential waits for its close-up as she starts her next journey. And, she worries about what others think.
I hold a good 25 years on her chronologically, yet AT MY AGE, I know that same fear intimately. It expands and contracts as the year’s progress, but it always shows up.
I mustered a lame-ass, “Ditto,” as I felt my response land on the table and splatter a few things around me, such as my snarky, sassy façade and my freakish need for control.
I realized then my ‘dodge and weave’ routine was back and in fine form. It’s my own (perfected) version of hiding from myself by criticizing things around me. I come out swinging when I feel vulnerable, threatened, or in situations that require me to take the road less traveled. (Which is sort of ridiculous because I grew up on the road less traveled.) Part of me wants so much to fit in, pick the path of least resistance, and blend, but my DNA refuses to accommodate the desire.
Perhaps, at this juncture you wonder, “WTF -- Is a point buried in this sad and sorry navel-gazing exercise? Did this whack-job read a Louise Hay book over the weekend? Shut up, already!
My apologies – I tend to bury my lead, it’s an annoying writing quirk of mine. So, here’s the punch line: I realized fear drove the narrative of my last blog and my surly attitude toward network marketing. By all means, let me mock and then lament the misfortune of arriving at this professional’s door before anyone else can. Let me judge first, before anyone else offers, perhaps, a snide judgment of me.
Exactly, how many times must I learn the same lesson before it sticks?
Or, the better question looks like this: When do I stop worrying about what others think of me? I wish my world behaved in a more restrained manner, but my life is messy and complicated and jeepers, not anything like I envisioned when I was 18, but whose is?