June 5, 2002
Though it seems a little forward or presumptuous or something of me to participate in an online journaling event at this early stage in my experience, that’s just what I’m going to do. I am powerless to resist Kismet and Jette’s June Journal SMACKdown!, which starts today.
The first SMACKdown topic: “How do you think other people perceive you?”
Think isn’t the word for it. It’s worry. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but I still worry. I worry that people think I’m a bitch when I stand up for myself. I worry that people think I’m a pushover when I don’t. I worry that people think I’m an uncoordinated spaz when I do anything physical. I worry that people think I’m stupid when I ask questions. I worry that people think I’m annoying whenever I talk to them. It’s limiting and tiring, all that anxiety.
I have found that the older I get, the less I let concern about what people will think affect what I do. In high school, I went out a few times with a guy who wanted to take me downhill skiing. I wouldn’t go. I was worried that I’d look like an idiot and he wouldn’t like me anymore. How stupid was that? And it’s not like it was going to be challenging skiing, either; we’re talking Illinois, here, folks. Fast forward about twenty years. Now I had a husband who’d learned to ski and wanted me to try it. At first I said “no way”, based on the old tapes playing in my head of me careening out of control down a hill and making a fool of myself, other people pointing and laughing and thinking I’m the biggest doofus to ever hit the slopes. But after a while I decided to give it a go; after all, our marriage vows said nothing about him being able to dump me if I proved to suck at sports. He’s stuck with me, for better or worse, on bunny hills and black diamonds. So we headed out to a little local ski area here in Michigan and I signed up for a lesson and got equipped with rental gear. And I did look stupid—toppling over on the beginner slope, which has so little pitch to it as to be almost flat, falling down getting off the chair lift, panicking at the drop off on the first real hill I tried. But it was okay. I’m sure some people looked at me and thought I was incompetent, but I liked skiing, despite the falling and the fear, and I’ve kept doing it since. If I’d let my worry about what the other people on the slopes thought of me keep me in the lodge, I’d have missed out on something I enjoy doing and something that makes me feel good about myself.
But all that doesn’t really answer the question does it? Fine, I’ll take a stab at guessing how people perceive me. I think that depends on how well a person knows me and in what setting. At work, where I spend most of my time, I tend to be more reserved and more sarcastic than in other settings. I think the consensus there is that I’m an arrogant and cranky person who keeps her job because she has experience in an area that the company needs and for an accountant, is pretty good at programming, plus she knew the boss in college so maybe gets cut a little slack for that reason. I’m really not a good judge of this, though. Some coworkers have become friends, and when I mention how impatient I am, they say they don’t see it.
I do know for sure how I hope people perceive me: as a smart, funny, capable, and attractive woman that’s worth spending time with.