Things that fascinate me: the way other people perceive me.
I literally stood on stage this week and gave a talk against needing other peoples validation and acceptance and I meant every word of it. In fact, I like to refer to myself as a recovered people pleaser. Like all addicts the addiction isn’t gone it’s just kind of in remission. I have to keep my guard up and take my problem serious still.
What is hilarious to me as I get older though is other peoples perceptions of me. Just this morning I was in my cubicle deep in a fascinating database project, click click clicking away when one of my cube-mates started complimenting me. She said that being near me at the office had really motivated her because I accomplish so much and I’m ‘so together’.
I snorted from behind my double monitors of spreadsheets and responded, ‘it’s 10am and I just took my vitamins with a 44oz diet coke full of saccharine – you might need a new role model’.
Now before you all jump down my throat about my need to be able to accept compliments – pump.the.brakes. I greatly appreciated her sweet, sincere compliment and we had a rather lengthy chat about getting things done, time management, couponing, etc. I love those kinds of conversations and enjoy gleaning wisdom from others tactics (sidebar: this same cube ate taught me to sprinkle those laundry crystals in your trash can to avoid odor and absorb any stray liquids – legit!). I’m also extremely willing to lend a hand to others who want to get better in those areas.
The part I found funny was ‘together’. While I work hard to keep a tidy house, a functioning budget, healthy relationships, and accomplish lofty reading goals – I wouldn’t describe myself as together. Mercy, half the time I might err on the side of calling myself a hot mess.
So I giggled at her description because just that morning I was running around like a chicken with her head cut off after deciding to have an impromptu game night and saying ‘I’ll make everyone dinner’ in the midst of a chaotic week that didn’t really lend itself to chef Becca time (oh and my fridge had hotdogs, coffee creamer, and one chobani yogurt so I was pretty poorly equipped even if I found the time).
I say all this to entertain you on the way to my real point: beware of perceptions. In bible study tonight we talked about favoritism. My round table group had an incredible conversation about how we are so quick to think we have people (and their lives) all figured out instead of taking the time to get to know them.
This week I stood across from someone who was completely broken over a circumstance in their life and no one else knew. All day we had been surrounded by people and this friend had seemed ‘normal’ but when they pulled me aside it turned out their world was on a downward spiral and they were desperate for someone to share the load.
The truth is I’ve just come out on the upside of a pretty rough couple of weeks myself. And while my sweet cube-mate made my morning (and gave me a good laugh about my vitamins and diet coke combo) – no matter how together I may have seemed, my world’s been pretty upside down lately. It was a great reminder to me to take the time to know how people are and to listen to them. Our perceptions can be just plain wrong. Make time for people, not assumptions about them.