Care What Others Think?

I debated it back and forth in my mind before I sent the text.

“Should I or shouldn’t I?”

“What if she didn’t mean it?”

“Then it’s going to be awkward from this point forward.”

“People say things all the time about getting together but they never do.”

I quickly wrote the text and hit send before I could give it another thought.

Hey Kristin, it’s Shelley from boot camp.  Would you and Vince be up for meeting for drinks/dinner the weekend of the 21st?

No response that evening, which didn’t surprise me.  I know she works late at an urgent care clinic.

No response the next day either, and I must admit at this point I started to feel a bit foolish.

Or the day after that.

And just in case you’re wondering, she never did respond.

And yes it was terribly awkward, especially the day I saw her again at boot camp.

I saw her out of the corner of my eye approaching, looked up and flashed a nervous smile in her direction and then felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  You know the one.  It’s the feeling that makes you want to run and hide when you realize you’re the last classmate standing and neither side has picked you for their team in gym class.  (I was the smart one, not the sporty one.)

I tried not to make eye contact and busied myself with my weights.  She dropped her mat down next to mine and the workout began.  A few minutes in she leaned over and said, “I’m so sorry I haven’t responded to your text, things have been really crazy busy the last few days.”

Her profuse apologies made me feel worse, the sinking feeling was back, and I did my best to reassure her while doing jumping jacks that it was no problem at all.  “It will work out whenever the time is right,” I heard myself saying.

The next time I saw her at boot camp it was the same story.  And the same the time after that.  She kept apologizing.  And I kept reassuring her that it was no big deal, I wasn’t offended, I understand how life goes.

After the 3rd or 4th crazy busy the shame and embarrassment turned to anger.

Wtf!  Who the hell does this woman think she is!

Does she think I’m just sitting around waiting for the opportunity when she and her husband grace us with their presence at dinner?

What a bitch.

And then the righteous indignation set in.

Why me?  Here I am trying to do something nice like I always do and no one appreciates it.

Why am I the one who always has to coordinate everything?  Why am I the one who always has to be the heavy?

Why am I the one who always puts myself out there and gets humiliated? 

If she ever does come up with a date for dinner, I’ll tell her we’re busy.  That’ll show her.

Now, it probably wouldn’t surprise you at this point the cliché “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” kept echoing over and over again in my head.

I also realized a couple of things.  One, I had somehow managed to create a heck of a story where I was cast in the role of the victim.  And two, perhaps I’m just the teeniest bit attached to what other people think of me.

Just a little.

Which then got me thinking of all the stupid things I’ve done in my life because I cared what others think:

  • Majoring in accounting
  • Working in accounting for many, many, long years. (Because getting the degree wasn’t painful enough…)
  • Getting an expensive MBA that I really didn’t need
  • Being on the board of organizations I really didn’t care about
  • Having a wedding party when we wanted to elope

And then I thought about all the things I did when I really didn’t give a damn about what others thought:

  • Moved to England with four suitcases and moved in with my boyfriend
  • Left a stable job to pursue my own business (twice)
  • Changed careers (finally) and moved into personal development
  • Took a sabbatical and got my yoga teacher training certification
  • Moved to Austin on a whim

And it’s no coincidence all these things turned out to be the best decisions I ever made.

Which then led me to the realization that I do and say really, really stupid things when I care what others think.  And it also occurred to me that maybe part of the answer to this conundrum lies in proudly owning who I am.

Yes I am that woman who will initiate things and always take the first step.

Yes I am that woman who constantly puts herself out there despite the looming risk of shame and embarrassment.

Yes I am that woman who is not afraid to boldly trek into vulnerability.

This is what has made me strong.  Successful.  Courageous.

Can I get a hell yeah???

When we truly own who we are, the bottom line is that it never matters what another person thinks.  You’re right with yourself, and that’s what really matters.

Where in your life right now do you care what others think?  How could this be an opportunity to stand in your truth?