SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE! 19 Jun 2013
I have always fancied myself as someone who doesn't care about what other people think. I don't mind making a fool of myself at karaoke (Madonna's "Borderline" is my go-to). I'll strike up conversations with strangers, even if I can tell they think I'm a crazy person. And I don't mind laughing loudly in a restaurant, even though some people seem to hate that for some reason.
The people I admire most in my life--like my sister and best friends--are people who really don't care what other people think. Actually, the more accurate description would be that they are fearless. They say what's on their minds, even if many people are likely to disagree. Some of them wear daring (fashionable) clothes, not worrying that they will stand out in a crowd or that people may scoff at them as a result. They don't let others cut in front of them in line in the grocery store, and they stand up for themselves and the people they love.
And while I'd like to lump myself in the same category as these women--and to some extent I do share some of these qualities--I'm starting to realize I'm not as bad-ass as they are or even as much as I like to think I am.
In fact, I DO care what people think. More than I would like to admit. And my wedding planning is bringing that into striking relief for me. In fact, it's made me realize that I am petrified of people talking sh*t about me.
Plain and simple.
Recently, a woman I know went to a wedding shower. She came back from the wedding shower with some stories. How stupid the games were. How many over-the-top, expensive gifts the bride had requested on her registry. How much she spent. How much others spent. She told me how she ribbed a friend, also in attendance, to commiserate with her on the ridiculousness, while the bride opened her presents. She even had a picture on her phone which she had texted to people not in attendance, which she showed to me to corroborate her stories.
I listened intently and found myself gripped in fear. Oh God, I thought. This is what people are going to say about ME. My worst nightmare is that someone will be attending something in "celebration" of my life choices--feeling obligated and bored and even a little used. To imagine someone leaning over and whispering in dismay to a friend, while I'm doing whatever my bridesmaids have planned for me, makes me cringe. To think people's coworkers may laugh about me on Monday around the water cooler makes me want to call everything off!
And the thing is, this woman is not a bad person. And she's certainly not alone. I myself have certainly attended events--even weddings--and come home regaling my family about the dress (the good, bad and ugly), the food, the music. Who hasn't? Talking sh*t is fun, man. It makes for serious entertainment. I love acting things out, getting animated and hearing my friends say things like: STOP! NO! YOU'RE KIDDING! STOP! While I get to shake my head and say things like...I couldn't make this stuff up!
Talking sh*t is a way to bond with friends. How many times have you connected with someone in your mutual dislike of someone or something else? It makes you feel that you're the same as someone else, and that the person you're talking to is someone you trust and someone who you think is smart like you and recognizes the things you recognize. You feel good. They feel good. I would venture to say almost everyone does it. And I'm not talking about the horrifying, mean-spirited, mean-girls type of sh*t talking. I'm talking the kind that seems to always happen amongst a group of friends and is generally practiced and accepted. Like, You know how Suzy is, she would be late to her own funeral. Bless her heart (in the south this phrase excuses everything you say after it). One time she was late to my...and so on.
Thing is, I don't want anyone to do that to ME. I mean, is it too much to ask? Can I be the only person exempt from this practice? Please?
I think about walking down the aisle and wonder what will people think of my unusual dress. Will they hate it? Will I see someone make a face or lean over and whisper to a friend, in a not nice way, while I'm headed to the altar? Will it ruin the moment? Will people leave saying the wedding was beautiful, only to go home and rip it to shreds--with iPhone pictures to boot!
Oh the humanity!
The firestorm of sh*t talking ignited by registries alone has me in constant angst.
My fiance and I, while grown ups, have the housewares of college students. Our sheets are bleach-stained and holey. We drink out of his unruly collection of pint glasses with random beer logos on them. Our towels are mismatched and old. Our kitchen is dotted with a couple of serviceable pans (thanks to my wonderful friends) and a few plates my mom gave me before I moved to Philly. I've moved practically every year since I was 18, and amassing a collection of nice things has just never been a practical consideration. And my fiance? Well he's a true man, and until I moved in, was using a melted plastic spatula to make 1 of the 2 things he knows how to prepare on a cook-top.
So now, I have the opportunity to register for the things we desperately need for a more grown-up life, and I'm imagining the comments I've heard others make in recent years, echoing all around me. Comments about having a registry at all. Even though there are other comments of frustration, if you don't have one. Comments about prices. Comments about items that people will think I need or don't need. Comments about my taste (gasp!). I know I've certainly purchased things on registries before thinking: WOW. That is hideous. But, if you want it, you shall receive it.
The thing is, when I think of every person I love that will be in attendance at my celebrations, I can't imagine they won't be happy to be there or will go home and talk about me. I have wonderful friends. Incredibly supportive ones, who can't wait to buy me things and attend my showers and fly to be by my side, as I have for them. So why am I so paranoid? It is the outliers? The people I don't know so well that will be there? The general hate and chatter about expense and excess that often accompanies weddings? My own sh*t talking? The woman that went to the shower? All of the above?
But mostly, I think it all comes down to judgment. The comments, the sh*t talking...isn't it all ultimately judgment in some way? That's what I think I'm really scared of. That I will be labeled frivolous or wasteful or even worse...inconsiderate. Not that someone will not like my taste in dishes or in dress (sniff), but that someone will surmise something about me in the process. I've worked hard to reconcile my identity...not just to others, but to myself. Will my expensive food processor make them think differently of me and blow that all to smithereens?
So much for not caring what people think right?
I don't know the answers to my quandary, or if/when these fears and insecurities will dissipate. Or what my reaction to this process says about me, about all of us, and our strong opinions about things like weddings, which make us so judgmental. All I know is I keep returning to 2 words. Be. Gentle. A reminder to myself that when I go to weddings and parties and...whatever. That likely, someone has worked really hard and put a lot of time and energy into including me in their life--no matter how over the top or underwhelming it all seems to me. That I should do and spend only what feels right for me, without the resentment or guilt that often comes with not meeting what I perceive someone else's expectations of me to be.
And I can only hope that I'm equally gentle on myself and that others will return the favor when my time rolls around.
See you in class.