I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about perceptions – about ourselves, about others – and the often unwanted opinion-sharing that results from it. A couple nights ago, the hubs and I went out for a nice double-birthday dinner with four other friend-couples of ours. To be honest, it was more like a night out for our gaggle of chattering girls but we chose to drag our men along with us…which gave the evening an acceptable air of formality. Anyways, this is my core group of local ladies and of the four, two are about to pop out their second child, one just announced she was preggers and the last is an ambitious working girl who is in no way even thinking about kids. And they are all younger than me. Not by a lot, but I am definitely the old hag of the group. Which makes me the wisest.
My point is – WHO CARES?!
I don’t mean who cares about those who are preggers. I’m actually super pumped to be an honorary auntie, and have quite a few friends-with-kids already, some almost teenagers. What I mean is, having kids, being pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or not wanting kids at the moment, and what age we happen to be at what stage, is such a small part of who we are and why we’re friends. We hang out because we genuinely like each other. And none of us try to box-in the others with our own perceptions or opinions of them.
I’ve never really been one to spend my time classifying others. It’s most likely because I’m extremely self-centered, but I like to think it’s because I let others just be as they are (Except if you happen to be the type of person who doesn’t let others be, then I have a major problem with you, but that’s a blog post for another time). I’m also not one to have mentors or people I look up to. Not because I don’t think others are worth admiration, but because I figured out a long time ago that it’s much more productive to just be your own person, and let others do the same. And I can tell you the exact moment I figured it out.
It was 10th grade and I had just started at a new high school where I knew nobody. I joined field hockey to make some friends and we lowly underclassmen were somehow invited to one of our senior teammate’s parties. This senior was my everything. She was beautiful, hung out with the cool crowd, was great at field hockey, and was dating one of the hottest guys in school. All very important credentials to a 15-year-old. I went to her party (which, in typical Maine fashion, consisted of drinking around a fire-pit in the woods) only to witness my senior idol get wasted, have a public blow-out with her boyfriend and then spend the rest of the night sobbing on the forest floor at the feet of her cool friends, who didn’t seem to care in the least. Suddenly, I didn’t want to be her anymore.
But none of that was her fault. I was the one who decided she led this flawless existence when in fact she was a real person who had real problems of her own. I have no idea what happened to her, but from then on I chose to focus more on the other sophomore girls who were on the team and to this day we are still genuine friends. Because I didn’t make assumptions about them, but allowed them to reveal their awesomeness to me in their own way. Which is the whole point of getting to know someone!
What I’m getting at is that it’s inspiring to me to have friends who are so multi-faceted, who aren’t just “mothers” or “career-women” or “artists” or “silly weirdos” etc, but are a combination of some, or all, or none, of the above…or something else entirely. It’s extremely important to recognize this fascinating depth in others, and in yourself. And to not allow anyone to tell you “I’ve decided that you are ____ (insert hurtful opinion here). You should change. You should be more like me.” People who talk like this don’t know what the hell they are talking about. They are sad, emotionally stunted individuals who should be focusing on themselves and their own issues that they are projecting onto others. They don’t deserve to be in your life. Make sure to always surround yourself with genuine people who let you just be…you.
Inspiration for this post came from my awesome friends, a certain overly opinionated member of my family and from a recent post on The Truth Behind the Glow.