Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I sincerely hope you hold me in high regard

I have many flaws, but one of the worst is the fact that I care deeply about what you think of me.

I don't mean "you, the blog reader," I mean "you, the random person living anywhere in the world."

So much of what I do is driven by the idea that I want everyone to like me. Which is why you and I should never go out together for lunch. Unless you're prepared to pick a place where we're going to eat, it won't actually happen.

POTENTIAL LUNCH MATE: Where do you want to eat?

ME: Where do you want to eat?

POTENTIAL LUNCH MATE: Well, I don't know. Do you have a favorite place?

ME: Yes. It's wherever you want to eat.

POTENTIAL LUNCH MATE: How about Applebee's?

ME: Great! I love Applebee's!

POTENTIAL LUNCH MATE: Or maybe T.G.I. Friday's?

ME: Oh yeah, T.G.I. Friday's for sure! Great choice!

POTENTIAL LUNCH MATE (getting suspicious): Or we could eat at McDonald's.

ME: YES! Oh man, you're good at this! I could eat at McDonald's every day!

POTENTIAL LUNCH MATE: How about the town dump? Maybe we can pick through old Styrofoam containers and get our lunches for free.

ME: I can't believe I didn't think of that! You're really smart! The dump, yes! I really hope you like me!

I think it's because I don't do conflict well. So, subconsciously, I figure if I can just keep you liking me at all times, we won't ever disagree. And if we don't ever disagree, I don't have to run away in sheer panic at the idea of working through a difference of opinion.

This, as you might guess, is no way to go through life. Especially when I tell my kids all the time, "Don't worry about what other people think. You just be you, and that's what's important."

I admire people who can just be themselves and who genuinely don't care what others think of them. These are people who are truly living life. Not that we should all go around acting like rude, arrogant jerks toward one another. It's just that I think people who unshackle themselves from the constraints of others' opinions are the only ones who are really free.

Like I said, though, I even care what total strangers think about me. If I'm driving and accidentally cut someone off, my first thought isn't, "Whew, that was close! Good thing no one got hurt. I need to be more careful." No, what I'm thinking is, "I need to get the guy's license number so I can track down his address and send him a note of apology. Now he thinks I'm a bad driver and a jerk AND I CAN'T STAND THAT SOME GUY WHOM I'M NEVER LIKELY TO SEE AGAIN THINKS BADLY OF ME! MY DAY IS RUINED!"

And you know what I'm thinking right now? I'm thinking, "Oh no, I've gone to the trouble of writing this blog post, and when people read it they're going to think I'm weird and neurotic. I just want them to think I'm a nice guy and a good father and a faithful husband and someone they could be friends with! AAAAAGH! I'M  BACK TO THINKING IN CAPITAL LETTERS AGAIN!"

I'm telling you, it's exhausting to be like this.

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