Are YOU talking about ME?

I’m 30 and at work. The door at the end of the long corridor is closed, darkening the hallway and casting shadows where the high-noon light would otherwise bring warmth and the expected. Today, however, the scene is foreboding. Inside the sealed office, there are two, maybe three people and I can hear their muffled voices through the weight of the commercial office doors. I lighten my step as I walk by, walking on tippy toes so the heels of my stilettos don’t give me away. I slow my pace to a near stop, linger for a moment or two longer than I should and then realize that the risk of the door flying open and someone catching me is enough to make the world start to spin and me to reach for the nearest wall for balance. With disappointment, I quickly move on.

*********************************************************************

I’m 19 and at a party, surrounding by friends and acquaintances, drinking my cranberry juice and 7-UP. Two friends huddle in the corner for an intense discussion. Her twirling her hair with curiosity, and him with raised eye brows, making grand gestures for what appears to be an animated delivery of a secret collection of thoughts. I hover near the food table, grazing, over eating, convincing myself that each bite will be my last of the night. I eat only soft food – cheese, mostly – as crunching impacts my ability to eavesdrop. From time to time, the friends look my way (although never directly at me), generally smiling politely, then turning to one another and throwing their heads back with laughter. This time I reach for the Brie. Higher fat content.

**********************************************************************

I’m nine, maybe ten, and awkward. My, then-thick, locks, always seem to be matted and nappy. I look at my hands and realize that yet again I have chewed my nails ragged, bits of skin hang off the sides and around the cuticles. I’m wearing Mexx or Esprit, something that was all the rage those days. But the fashionability of my wardrobe is overshadowed by my rolly poly mid-section, my over-blossoming bosom, my cheese-induced (there’s that food product again) behind, and the nervous sweat that always seems to make itself known in all the wrong places. But, amidst all that, I was still a positive, happy little girl, laughing boisterously, always eager to pass along an encouraging word…or answer the teacher’s question. In short, I was Little Miss Sunshine before Hollywood had ever embraced her. Today, my “gang” of girls are meeting behind the book shelf. I sit alone at our collection of tables, waiting for the outcome of their discussions. It’s rarely in my favour.

***********************************************************************

After school lesson of these three scenarios: if you’re not talking to me, I ALWAYS think you’re talking about me. No, really. A-L-W-A-Y-S. Oh, yeah, and I always assume it’s bad. Especially when the door is closed. And I’m generally panicked and always uncomfortable by your flapping lips, flailing hands and misguided glances. Can you people not keep your eyes to yourself? Looking my way as I stare a hole through the front, back, or side of your head, desperately wondering if somehow the topic of Wee C has made its way into your discussion about nuclear warfare or sustainable farming, DOES NOT HELP.

Self-centered, you say? Yeah, uh huh it is. I’d be stupid to argue with you…you’d probably just go talk about me to someone else. Irrational? Yup, it’s that too. But a well-entrenched part of my personality and life? Boy is it ever. And no matter how much older and more settled I get, I’m still convinced that every move I make, every article of clothing I put on, every decision I make, is being scrutinized and ridiculed, regardless of how much you love me or how little you may know me.

And you would be amazed how often this foolish hangup appears in my life. At the beach, I figure everyone (including the 300 lb woman bathing topless) thinks I’m too flabby to wear a bikini. In the coffee shop, I suspect you are rolling your eyes thinking that my cappuccino, with its 1/3 milk, 1/3 foam and 1/3 espresso, is high-maintenance. At work, who knows what you think…either that I’m too professional and uptight or I’m not nearly enough. In a public washroom, I might make a stink and you might think I’m gross…as if I’m the only human being in the world that has this bodily function. So, if you can believe it, I just hold it. I HOLD IT! No friggin’ wonder my stomach revolts against me and makes me want to curl up in the fetal from the agony it inflicts. No friggin’ wonder.

Oh, in the past year, I’ve come a long way, baby. And I’m mighty proud of myself. But this little hangup? I’m just scratching the surface of all the crazy I’ve got stored up with this one. So for now, I’ll just assume that once you’ve read this post, you’ll shake your head and say something like “Boy that Wee C needs to get a grip”. And really, you might as well say it, because just like I shove cheese into my own mouth, I’m going to put the words into yours.

Advertisements

2 responses to “Are YOU talking about ME?

  1. Hello there

    I read this post with interest after stumbling across on google, purely by chance. Your description is 100% how I feel every single day. I know the feeling so well its just a part of my every day life and while understanding how irrational it is, it is my default setting. I wish I could banish it forever/explain it and nobody I have ever spoken to about it has known what the hell I’m talking about. So kind of a relief to hear someone else describe in such accurate detail. I am 36, have a great job, life, am very blessed in many ways, but this is something that quietly eats away at me.

    Well, just thought I’d say hello and thanks for sharing.

    Take care, Tee

  2. Hey Tee! Thanks so much for dropping by. We’re glad to have you! It’s funny, it’s been awhile since I wrote this and much has changed in my life. This nasty little hangup being one of them. What I’ve recently realized is that while this will always be a part of me (I predict), it was exacerbated by having one person in my life that I so desperately wanted to please. In not being able to please him, I sought to get the love and approval of everyone else. He’s since left my life and with his departure I discovered that I spend a lot less time worrying about what other people think and whether or not they approve of me. I mention this just in case you have one of those people in your own life. Maybe not, but it never hurts to share, right?

    Also, if this is something you struggle with, I’d really encourage you to read the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. It’s tremendous and it’s a super-easy read. And it’s just what us people-pleasers need to hear!

    Good luck!
    Wee C

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s