The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

It’s True – They Might Not Like You

As I tried to chat with the woman sitting across the table her gaze slid away from mine.  I scanned the rest of the women in the group only to realize that no one was talking to me.  It suddenly occurred to me that the only person interacting with me at this shower was my friend, the bride-to-be. 

Then it hit – they didn’t like me!  It wasn’t that they disliked me, but they clearly didn’t like me.   

 So here I was in my worst nightmare.  I remember the fear as far back as elementary school, the belief that if I’m not liked, if I’m rejected, then…what?  The world would come to an end?  Time would stop?  I’m not sure what I believed would happen, but that jittering fear was always with me when I thought about social events. 

So how did I feel, facing the rejection I’d feared for most of my life? 

I was bored. 

That’s all.  No shrinking into my seat in humiliation, no fervent wishing I was a million miles away.   I just realized that it was going to be a long afternoon. 

And, as I thought about the group, I understood.  Most of the women were suburban moms in their early thirties with kids in elementary school.  And there I was, mid-fifties, divorced, with an adult daughter.  I was just too different, I think I made them uncomfortable.  

Once I realized that no one wanted to talk to me, I settled back in my chair and just let the activity wash around me. Most of the women there had been friends for years – they chatted about their kids, planned potlucks, talked about their husbands.  It was pleasant, this murmur of friendship and sharing, even though it didn’t include me.  I was an outsider, but it didn’t really matter because no one was paying any attention to me.

I ended up loving that shower, but not for the usual reasons.  What I loved was how comfortable I felt even though I didn’t fit in. There was such ease in not loading up the experience with needs – the need for acceptance and approval, the need to be one of the gang.  I’d carried the fear of not being liked with me all my life; what a delight it was to find that when the time came to face my fears, they simply vanished.

***

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12 responses to “It’s True – They Might Not Like You

  1. Debbie C April 13, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Really like this post, M.

  2. Marcia April 13, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for this inspiring post, Melinda. I only hope I can remind myself of your words next time I’m in a similar situation, so that I can just relax and let it be.

  3. Dawnika April 13, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Beautiful post!

  4. Melinda April 13, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Marcia – I love that you relate to this, thanks for your comment. And Dawnika – this was one for us sensitive introverts!!

  5. Trish April 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Great piece. I have found this same freedom of angst around whether people like me as I’ve aged. I think it’s one of the best parts of getting older – it’s like putting down a fifty pound sack of rocks you didn’t even know you were carrying around with you.

  6. Bob Murphy April 15, 2010 at 5:13 am

    As usual, Melinda, a great post with a lot of resonance for me. There’s a lady I know who works at Peet’s Coffee, late 30’s with kids. Most of the other workers on her usual shift are 20-somethings. The other workers were chatty and approachable with her – until they found out how old she was, and that she had a husband and kids. She, too, was just too different.

    I think the realization that “it doesn’t matter” is a function of age, experience, and the good coping skills that come from both. We’re comfortable in our skins, now.

    • Melinda April 20, 2010 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks so much for your comments, Bob. I think for some of us not caring comes with age, but I’d love to help the young folks that struggle for acceptance understand that it isn’t as important as it feels!

  7. Melissa Holder April 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you for this, Melinda. So often, I’ve been invited, but not included. This helps me realize that it’s not that they don’t like me, it’s that they’re not like me.
    I must also thank Deb C. for introducing me to your site.

    Melissa

    • Melinda April 27, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      Well put, Melissa – “I been invited, but not included.” Kinda takes the sting out of it when we realized that what feels like rejection is really just neutrality. I thank Deb, too, for introducing you to my site – she is a terrific friend.

      Welcome!

      Melinda

  8. Tara Mohr May 6, 2010 at 7:49 am

    What a beautiful post, Melinda. A true teaching story.
    I’m taking a lot from this – about how when our “worst fears” come true, we usually don’t ever feel as lost, upset or hopeless as we think we will.
    What is just is.
    And we are okay.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Tara

    • Melinda May 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      Thanks Tara :) It was so freeing to realize that it simply didn’t matter what the group thought of me, that I’d leave as whole as I was when I arrived.

      Melinda

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