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SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE! 19 Jun 2013

Livingl

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?

Probably.

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. 

 

 

 

Comments

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Lovely and thoughtful post - thanks for sharing!

This is why you shouldn't talk bad about people and hate on others! I've made it a life practice that I don't say anything about a person when they aren't there that I wouldnt say to their face. Granted I am pretty outspoken and have a gift to say uncomfortable things to people in the most gracious manner, however, this practice will keep you honest and gossip free. And seriously, women out there, if you are jealous of your friend's engagement, don't go to her shower or engagement party or wedding and hate on it. Stay home. Sayeh, try not to worry about all those haters out there. The people who are truly happy for you will do everything they can to make sure your bridal shower and wedding are the best day ever. Coming from a single woman whose best friend is getting married in November- I bought her gift before she even registered because I knew she wanted it (a Le Cruset dutch oven) and Im so excited to see her face when she opens it. Thats true love. Real friends don't snicker at your bridal shower, they smile and make sure your guests are happy and do everything to make sure you have a great day =) I hope you have a womderful bridal shower and only have people there who are TRULY happy for you and your fiance!

Terrific post Sayeh. I spent years of my life in a box of paranoia about these same issues when gossips at work made me question my every move. The one thing I would point out is that you shouldn't worry about being construed as inconsiderate--you've just given the world ~1500 thoughtful, personal and immensely considerate words, and the world is a better place for them. My day is a better place for them. So for anyone to turn around and label you inconsiderate is just, well, wrong. That's on them, not on you.

Reading this felt like getting a hug :)

Amirah, thank you so much for your sage advice and kind words. Amanda, your comment made me tear up. Thank you. And Kristin, that's probably the best compliment I've ever received about something I've written. Dana, thank YOU for reading. I really appreciate the support ladies. Feeling so touched this morning.

Sayeh, I know I've said this to you in passing on more that one occasion, but thank you for writing this. Similar to the sentiment expressed by the Kristin who commented above me, your honesty and willingness to express these things (that many of us would prefer to hide from the world for fear of being sh*ttalked) is truly helpful, like getting a hug. You are a truly awesome person, and the fact that I can relate so much to so many of the things you open up about provides me with a sense of comfort; it's ok to feel these things, and it's ok to be honest with myself and with others about them. It doesn't make me a bad person, or immature, a big phoney, or dumb. This is the human experience, the female experience, and we're all going through it in one form or another. So why not be honest about it? If someone sh*ttalks you for it, well fine. Let them have their fun, and be satisfied that you provided them with a topic for their conversations and subsequent sense of communal bonding. I'll take it. Thanks again Sayeh :)

Thank you so so much Kristin K. For all your suport and kind words. It's a comfort to me too knowing that people can relate. That we're not alone in the constant slew of emotions we deal with daily about life and love and the challenges of just well...being.

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