I have a special guest post today from Elizabeth (Confessions From A Working Mom). I read this and there are absolutely so many parts I could have written myself! Hope you enjoy it...
I've gone out to dinner and a movie alone, and really enjoyed myself.
I've gone to work on Fridays (ok, ok, and sometimes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and the occasional Thursday) without a lick of makeup on my face, and my unwashed hair in a greasy ponytail.
I've even ended friendships I found toxic, making a clean break without looking back.
But on the inside, I care-- desperately, passionately, all-consumingly-- about what others think of me. When I think I've offended someone, or think I've made a bad impression, I can keep myself awake for hours at night, conjuring up fictional "what I should have said" conversations. I can obsess over the most minute details; does so-and-so think I don't like them, because I didn't stop and chat with him/her at work today? Will so-and-so be angry with me because I skipped this week's playdate to hang out with a different group of friends?
I could go on and on...
It's a tough dichotomy: being who you are without ruffling somebody else's feathers. How do you do it? If you stray too far to one extreme, you can come across as callous, unfeeling, even disengaged. But on the opposite end, catering to another person's feelings 24/7 can compromise your personality, and leave you struggling to find your center, your balance, your sense of self.
Is there a happy medium?
I think as I get older, I get closer to finding that happy medium. I learn-- through my own experiences, and through the shared experiences of my family and friends-- that it's ok to be me. That doesn't mean I don't worry about the consequences of my sometimes-bad behavior. On the contrary, I think it's just my human nature to focus on things I can't control (or, more rightly said, things I can't control as much as I'd like to).
So the next time I see you on the street, and I don't meet your gaze full-on with a wide, white smile, don't worry... I'll do enough of that for the both of us.
Elizabeth is a freelance writer. She is currently a resident writer for OnlineSchools.org, which researches areas of higher learning, online colleges, and education. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing down her toddler, who is usually trying to chase down the family dog, who is usually trying to chase down the mailman.