Everybody’s story is more interesting than mine

When we were planning our honeymoon, it was quite common for guys to ask us why we chose PEI. The girls mostly knew why without any explanations necessary, so they generally responded with squeals of delight and excitement for me, but the boys tended to be pretty clueless. When we explained that PEI was somewhere I’d wanted to go since I was nine years old and I first read Anne of Green Gables, and that it was a beautiful island quite similar in appearance to (but much cooler in July than) our Outer Banks, we generally got polite but bewildered smiles.

One “friend,” though, upon hearing where we were going and that we’d be going to see the Anne of Green Gables play while we were there, turned to Mike and said in a voice loaded with sarcasm and disdain, “You must really love her.”

That’s the kind of remark that’s okay between genuine friends, you know? When there’s genuine affection, it’s not such a big deal. Brian or Scott or Josh could say that same thing to me (although none of them would use that tone) and I would simply stick out my tongue at him. This guy, though, tends to make a big deal about being forced to watch chick flicks or the like, and going to see the Anne of Green Gables play would really have threatened his manhood. I am thankful that Mike isn’t like that. I let that comment get to me, though, let it make me feel as if I was somehow being unfair to Mike, even though he was excited about our decision. And now, five years later, almost five years after our wonderful time in PEI, I still react out of that same fear of being “that girl.”

We went to the movies last week. Bride and Prejudice opened on Friday, and I knew I wanted to see it, but I didn’t want to make Mike miss something he’d like to see, like Be Cool. With that long-ago comment in my mind, I even suggested that we go to separate movies. Mike rolled his eyes and bought tickets to Bride and Prejudice. And you know what? We both loved it. We had fun matching up the parallels to P&P, and we both like Bollywood-type movies, and he had the extra added bonus of getting to see Alexis Bledel. On the way home, I tried to express to him some of what I’d been thinking – that one of the reasons I had been so neurotic was because of my fears of being unfair to him in the eyes of others. Of course he didn’t remember the original comment, but he understood what I was trying to say. He reassured me that he didn’t feel steamrolled by me at all, and that he genuinely likes a lot of the same things that I do.

In pondering the original event and the way it made me react last week, I had planned to post a tirade about guys who make a big deal about chick flicks or the like, but then I realized that that wasn’t the problem. I don’t care if guys honestly don’t care for that type of movie, just like I honestly don’t care for violent movies. The problem is in me – why did that comment get to me? I think it got to me in part because I never feel completely sure about my place with this guy, never quite sure if he actually likes me or just tolerates me. More than that, though, I tend to rate myself as second-class. This guy with his confidence and his quick wit is obviously first-class, and if he thinks my plans are stupid, well, maybe they really are. From that fear, I quickly move to resentment (“What right does he have to judge my plans?”) and frustration at myself (“Why do I even care?”), but it’s important to note that the fear is there. It’s behind so much of what I do. It’s why I clam up around some people – I still see myself as that girl who’s not invited to sit at the cool table. I feel as if there are rules about coolness that I don’t know, so how can I know if I’ve violated them? I get so focused on myself and my worry and my fear of fitting in and abiding by the rules that I can’t be myself.

Mike and I talked about a bit of this yesterday, and I think it boils down to learning to be more comfortable in your own skin. Not needing validation from others. There are ways in which I am quite good at that, but not when I am feeling second-class or unsure.

For me, admitting that this is how I operate is always a huge step. Now that I see clearly that I do this (I mean, I knew before that I did it somewhat, but I didn’t see so clearly how much it affects me), I hope I will be able to start changing some of the things I tell myself. Not in the, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough . . .” sense, but in the, “There are plenty of people who like you the way you are. Stop paying attention to the people who don’t. They don’t deserve so much power in your life,” sense.

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