Do you ever wonder where you learned a belief that you hold? I do. I once read something that really resounded in my psyche. I can’t remember where I read it or what the exact words were, but it said something like this:
Children are experts in everything; they can sing, they can dance, they can slay the dragon or they can be the beautiful princess… …until some adult tells them they can’t.
I bring this up because I used to think I was a truly fantastic person. I was awesome. I was cute. I was funny and had a magnetic personality. Most people genuinely liked me and wanted to be my friend. And then, at some point in the last decade, for some reason I began to suspect this belief to be untrue, and now I find myself believing the opposite. I’m not attractive. I don’t have charisma. People are too busy for me. No one really wants to be my friend.
I wonder where I heard this message… And, more importantly, is it true?
This last week I got a text from K asking me what I was doing. She wanted to hang out with me. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. J had the car, so I told her that I was free and would love to hang out, but that I understood if she didn’t want to come pick me up. (As I analyze myself now, I’m ashamed by my almost apologetic response. I completely understand if you don’t want to hang out with me. …especially since I’m this horrible inconvenience. Why would I think this? After all, it was her idea! She was texting me asking to hang out. Sheesh, Soph. Give yourself a little credit, will you? But I digress.) When she agreed to come pick me up and take me to a bar I was ecstatic. Manic, even. During our evening, I started worrying that I was coming across as too much: laughing too hard, talking too much, being too “me.” I worried that she’d see how desperate I am to have a friend. I kept reminding myself to play it cool. …but I was unsuccessful in that attempt. To my chagrin, I found myself apologizing for my over-the-top enthusiasm. She assured me that I was acting just fine, but I still worried.
Clearly I need to get the heck out of my head and just have a little fun. And yet, I can’t seem to.
I see my own insecurity even in my email interactions with people I don’t know. I posted a Craigslist ad asking if anyone had any hobbies they’d like to share with me. (Back-story: My friend, A, was talking about all the random, social things she does ALL THE TIME. I asked her how she found out about these interesting opportunities, and she said Craigslist. At her recommendation, I checked out the Community section of my local Craigslist page. I didn’t see anything that immediately grabbed my attention, so I took a risk and posted an ad. It felt weird…like I was posting a personal ad, but I’m really glad I did it, because I’ve gotten some really interesting responses…and so far, no crazies as far as I can tell. Okay, now back to the point.) As I have interacted via email with people who have responded, I find myself believing that they probably don’t actually want to meet me, even though that’s clearly not the case, since they responded to my ad. I keep saying things like “Let me know if you want to meet up,” rather than things like “Where do you want to meet?”
What on earth is my problem? Why can’t I accept that I just might be a fun person to be with? When I spent time with K, why was I so worried that I was laughing too much or acting overly enthused? Who doesn’t want people to laugh at their jokes and who doesn‘t want to be liked? When people responded to my ad, why did I still worry that they’d rather hang out with someone else? I mean, really, if they didn’t want to meet a new friend, they wouldn’t respond to the bloody ad!
Where did I hear the message that I am not worth other people’s time? Why do I believe I am unlovable?
…and how can I unlearn the lesson?