She passed me a note at her Art class: “You’re embarrassing me”.
When did I get to the age that I could embarrass my kids? What had I done anyway? I introduced myself to the new (& uncomfortable-looking) seven-year-old girl sitting next to my daughter. I was trying to put this other girl at ease.
Curiously, just before class, my daughter told me that despite her similar age to the others, they thought themselves better than her because she hadn’t been in the class long.
Often in new scenarios, people are self-conscious for various reasons.
- Do I fit in?
- Do I talk like them?
- Do I wear similar clothing styles?
- Do I value what they value?
- Do I look cool?
By the end of elementary school, I became aware of myself, too.
Sometimes I was uncertain of myself too.
I was occasionally confounded by the look in someone’s eyes, wondering what exactly they thought. When they wanted to spend more time with me, I let the insecure thoughts fly away, mostly.
When they didn’t want to spend more time with me, I wondered what I had done, what I had said, that set them leaving me in the dust. (I perseverated in my mind like a two-year-old to a bag of opened marshmallows.)
It’s taken a lot of personal work to get to the place of not concerning myself with what other people think.
But as a wise Facebooker said, “What other people think of me is none of my business.”
And it’s mighty distracting anyway….attempting to live my life in my own way, with my own rhythms and pace, and with my particular values, that’s enough of an effort.
But people are interesting and have remarkable variety in their stories and paths to understanding themselves and others.
As I’ve come to care less, a lot less, about what other people think of me, I have ironically come to care about what they think…not about me, but about everything else.
I like hearing their stories, their perspectives, and learning about a world outside my own brain.
So instead of scolding my daughter or slinking away from Art class, I wrote my daughter a note:
“Overwhelm bad with good. If these people don’t know how to show a welcoming spirit to you, show them how to do it with the girl on the right”.
I won’t get too bugged that my daughter thinks my advice unhelpful, for it took me thirty years to learn.
But as my husband is always admonishing me, I will also overwhelm the bad with the good and hopefully be a healthy model for my daughter, too.
“Don’t chase people. Be yourself. Do your own thing and work hard. The right people–the ones who really belong in your life–will come to you, and stay”.Will Smith