In my last post, I spoke a little about how I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin – about who I’ve become as a person – then I think I’ve been in a while. But every so often, you get a glimpse of how others might see you too. Sometimes that’s an amazing view. And sometimes it makes you realize that you still have quite a lot of work to do. In less than 24 hours, I got both.
Neither situation was intended to be such, I would imagine. In the first instance, a good friend rather matter-of-factly outlined how they viewed me. You know the tone I’m talking about – the “This isn’t really an area for discussion because it’s just the simple truth, so deal with it and move on” tone. It’s the tone you use in a mildly exasperated manner to the gorgeous friend you have that worries that they aren’t looking their best, or the top-notch colleague who is worried about their review. It wasn’t the “I think you’re being falsely modest, and that you’re fishing for compliments” tone. It was the “I accept that you genuinely don’t realize this right now, but I really don’t understand how you don’t” tone. And since it came from someone I don’t speak to as often, but whose opinion I greatly respect, I took a little more notice than I might otherwise would. It made me feel awesome that my friend thought so highly of me, and I wanted to live up to this image that my friend had of me. I thought that it might be true on my best days, but I needed to do a little work to strive toward that ideal more often. Because the person described was the sort of person I definitely want to be.
Then, less than 24 hours later, I was at the house of fairly new friends. The wife and I have hung out a couple times with our kids, but I haven’t spent much time with the husband, so this was the first time. And I was in a bit of a mood for one reason or another. Distracted. A little quick to the trigger. And it suddenly occurred to me (as I accidentally insulted my host) that I must be coming off as incredibly judgmental. I’m not sure what had gotten into me, but I was spouting off about various things, and I had to stop and think – I don’t sound very much like someone I would want to get to know better. What am I doing? They of course were lovely and ignored my totally boorish behavior, but I can only imagine what they must’ve been thinking.
[Shoot. This entire post is about what other people think of me, and I was going to stop worrying about what other people were thinking, wasn’t I? Oops. Ah well, another new year’s resolution down the drain.]
So now, as I sit at home and contemplate all this, I’m reminded of how very thin the line between good and bad can be. I want to be:
- Opinionated, but not judgmental
- Intelligent, but not elitist
- Aware of how lucky I am, but not condescending
- Quirky and interesting, but not crazy
- A spitfire, but not a pain in the ass
- Confident, but not arrogant
- Knowledgeable, but not a know-it-all
- Self-confident, but not self-involved
- Mildly self-indulgent, but not hedonistic (or for that matter, amoral)
And I’m sure the litany continues on. I’m still trying to find that balance. Sometimes I succeed (Yay! Go me!), and sometimes I don’t (Why am I being such a b—-??). I’m going to try to keep an eye on the line and pull myself back from the brink whenever I cross it, but I need you – my friends – to help keep me honest. If you see me heading in to the abyss, please pull me back. We all need a little help sometimes.