Saturday, March 31, 2007

Princess Charming

No, I don't yet have a Match, let alone one made in heaven with a grand HEA. But what I do have is friends. Old friends, new friends, I'm kinda feeling the love today. I just sat with one of my few friends in CA who isn't from my online book club and we talked for hours. A lot of it was about books, so go figure.

But what we also talked about is making me rethink what is perhaps my largest insecurity. After I told her that my brother referred to her as "my friend who doesn't like anything", to which she fortunately laughed so I wouldn't have to invent a time machine to go back and unsay that, she pointed out, among other things, that everyone is annoying. What matters to her in a friendship is if the good that comes her way from that relationship is greater than the annoyance. This really struck a chord with me which I'll get to in a bit.

I didn't ask what I did that annoys her. What annoys my friend about me might not bother anyone else. Or in the words of an ex-boyfriend, maybe other people have decided to find that annoyance charming. And I know that if I ask, it won't be what I thought, it'll hurt in some way, and I'll obsess over it. I once asked someone to tell me the worst feature of my face and it was the first time I realized my nose wasn't perfectly straight and symmetrical and that conversation started my eight year obsession with getting a nose job. That obsession only ended in college when I looked around Boston and realized I had very little to complain about in the nose department. It bothered me enough that 20 years later, I worried that temptation would come back when I moved to the land of fake boobs and face lifts. And I still notice peoples noses. But I'd like to think I've learned to like myself for more than my nose, and so have my friends. In fact, I have friends with even somewhat alarming features who I like just fine, so why would a medium sized, slightly hooked nose prevent me from finding friendship and love?

And here's where I come to my point. I have been a neurotic, needy basketcase of insecurity recently to the point where I'm even making myownself tired of it. I've been rethinking every aspect of myself that I've thrown out for public inspection and wondering whether or not someone will like me, or certain parts of me, and if I could have said or done something, anything, differently, etc... And here's the crazy part, I wonder this even after people tell me to my face that they enjoy my company. How sick and wrong is that?

I can justify my feelings a little bit because I'm meeting a ton of new people and am trying to be open minded for a while before I pass judgment on whether or not these new people will become good friends, people I enjoy once in a while, or someone I'd rather avoid in future. So while I'm judging as little as possible, I'm expecting to be judged. But why do I keep expecting the Russian judges? I need to get over myself and accept that some people will like me and some people won't. And that if someone volunteers that they like me, I can believe them. And that I will like some people, but not everyone I meet, and not equally, or for the same reasons.

The great thing about my long-time friends in Boston (and at least one in Canada) is that they all know that eating dinner makes me have to blow my nose. Yes, at the table, or I wouldn't have time to eat. While I rarely put up any kind of front, I do try to be civil all around (don't hurt yourself laughing) and in this interim honeymoon period with the new friends, I'll be on my best behavior, so the annoying traits don't overpower the magic that is me. And when it comes time to let my civility slip from time to time, if one of my new friends is merely an acquaintance in disguise, or the timing isn't right, or the location doesn't work out, or they're offline, that's ok. We're none of us going to fling ourselves off the nearest cliff in despair. (Also, I'm not asking for anyone who reads this to post a reassuring comment to buoy my ego.)

In the meantime, I've been thinking about how I judge other people, and talking about it, so you may recognize your own words here (feel free to claim them in the comments) and on the whole, it's not that harshly. I have some friends who I enjoy in some capacities but not others, so we avoid those other things when possible which is most of the time, and focus on what we have in common. But I tend to have no patience for people who are willfully ignorant, have no intellectual curiosity, or refuse to at least try to give up on something they define as a problem, learn from it, and get on with life. These are traits I especially don't want to see in myself.

So I think the time has come that I need to give up on my insecurity about whether something I blurt out during a grrls getaway can ruin me forever in the eyes of my new friends or old. I talk a lot and I say what I think; I just have to trust that people who like me think that my good utterances outweigh my annoying ones. I do not have to be the most popular person in any given crowd. And when I find myself unexpectedly popular, or at least novel, it's ok graciously to say "thank you" and not point out all the reasons you shouldn't like me.

This change in my attitude won't happen overnight. I'll probably have relapses. This insecurity is even older than the nose job obsession so I expect a struggle. I'm still not sure how to make this happen aside from talking sense at myself when I catch the insanity creeping back. But for starters, I'll try not to send out any more cringe worthy emails asking anyone to reassure me that yes, you still like me. I'll have to stop thinking I have to apologize for wasting my old friends' time by calling them on the phone or sending them email. Because it's foreign for me to talk to my Boston friends on the phone or through email, I've been hesitant to call or write, even as I now regularly email people I met in person only 10 months ago or fewer. I will try not to think of myself as a pest, but as someone you want to hear from, unless you tell me otherwise. That reasonable? Good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check your email.