Recently I was at a female social gathering. There was a girl there (I say girl because everyone who is about my age or younger is a girl, of course), who was absolutely charming. I mean, this chick lights up a room. I was fascinated by her intelligent and hilarious way of telling a story—any story about anything that had happened to her. I wanted to hang around her because she was so smart and made me laugh. Other people wanted to hang around her, too, for the same reason, of course. I found myself acting goofy, like a young girl in love or something. I wanted this girl to keep talking--but, more than that, I wanted her to want to talk to me. And then, I also wanted her to listen to me. And to like me. And to want me for a friend. And, most importantly, to think I was very clever and funny, too.
I’ve been thinking about this desire of mine, feeling a little embarrassed by it. I’m sure I’m not the only one in the world who has wanted clever and funny people to think I’m clever and funny. Or, for that matter, to want dumb, boring people to think I’m clever and funny.
But it feels so shallow. I shouldn’t care whether people think I’m clever and funny, right? I should just be content to BE clever and funny.
No, I should just be content to BE.
What if I could even go one step further and not only NOT care what people think of me but actually be thinking about something else entirely during my interactions with people? What if I could concentrate that hard on what other people think . . . not about me, but about themselves? What if, after I have been to a party, people go home thinking NOT how clever I was but how much they like themselves? Wouldn’t it be cool if I were the kind of person that people don’t remember, but who leaves greater self-esteem where she’s been?
I love this idea. But I have found that it is extremely difficult to remember to act on it. Once I get into a social situation, my insecurities force me to start trying to prove myself. Oh yes, I’ve read the important books, I have the important opinions, and I state them so very wisely that you wish you had said them first. All of it shallow and empty in the long run, which I remember as soon as I walk out the door.
And the thing is, if I ever achieve the ability to be the kind of other-centered, self-esteem builder that I would like to be, I’m not sure I would even know it. I suppose the only clue I’d get is that at the end of an evening I would find that the time had flown and I was not left feeling insecure or longing. At least, that would be a good sign that I hadn’t been self-conscious, anyway. Which means that I had either been concentrating on others or just plain old enjoying myself. Both of which are very fine options, IMO.