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The killer of joy

The killer of joy

Note – this post was actually written for the most part on Monday, May 1, 2017.  Then I chickened out, then procrastinated, then chickened out again.  This morning I woke up at 6:00 am knowing that this was it, today was the day.  Honestly I’m not sure what I have been afraid of other than it is difficult to be open and vulnerable.

Yesterday (April 30) was a big day for me. I reached out to some women that I know but not incredibly well, and invited them to my house for an If:Table group. This probably wouldn’t be a big deal for most, but hospitality is not something that I have ever thought of myself as being gifted with. I don’t normally cook for people. I like to cook and I think it’s something I’m actually pretty good at, but I have that fear of being judged. People’s tastes are incredibly different and I can take things very personally. (side note – I also started an online Bible study group that will officially be starting next week. I will just be facilitating and getting things started but these are all steps of faith for me, just following where I feel God is leading even though I don’t see the whole path.)  Back to the in-person group at my house.  So yesterday at our group one person ended up not being able to make it so it was me and three other women. It was slightly awkward at first but I think we quickly found that we can be honest with each other because that is the entire goal – to be open and honest and figure out who we are and how we feel about Jesus – no judgement.  I think it’s going to be a very exciting time! However there’s a couple of things that I think lead to me making the decision to step out in faith and lead this group and those epiphanies are just as exciting! More about that in a moment.

Here’s a quick look at hospitality.  I’ve never felt like it’s my thing, but when I really look at the definition it seems pretty simple!

hospitality

  1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
  2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
I like people and consider myself to be friendly, so that should be easy enough.  But here’s where it gets tricky.  I mentioned in a previous post that I had recently gone to Florida. I went with my best friend and her son and my two boys and we stayed with a friend/former coworker and her husband at their home. I know a lot of people stay with friends and family so that wouldn’t be a big deal, but I am not those people! I do not even stay with family. I stay at home or at a hotel.  This trip came about because my friend and I were looking to get away with the kids but we needed to watch our budget because we both just quit our jobs. We were planning to go somewhere closer to home and stay but when our friend offered to host us it seemed like a great opportunity to catch up with them and save some money! (And be able to check out the beach.) My friend and I were both pretty nervous about staying there, not really knowing what we were supposed to do or what it would feel like. To be honest, it was a little awkward at first, but not nearly as uncomfortable as I had thought it would be. Our hosts were wonderful and encouraged us to make ourselves at home. One of the big lessons it taught me is that the most important part of hospitality is the the people aspect. Their house was not perfect. It was bigger than mine, newer than mine, but it wasn’t a show home. And they didn’t apologize for that. It was a normal family home, lived in and loved in and warm and welcoming. What’s better than that? I have always been so self-conscious about virtually everything and the older I get I realize that most of it is really inconsequential. We need new siding on our house. We have weeds in our driveway. Dust is a dear friend of mine. But there are some things that I love about my house. It is next-door to my mom and we are able to see each other often. It is in town and close to every place that I might need or want to get to quickly. My kids have all been raised there. If we can fit six kids and us in the house do we really need a bigger house now that we only have two at home? Probably not. The fact that we don’t have a big house was part of the reason that I was able to leave my full-time job and work very part time building our dreams!

Comparisions – ugh!

When we first came back from Florida I went out into our backyard and noticed that a couple of our daffodils had bloomed! They were yellow and beautiful and I was so excited to see these first signs of spring. Later in the day, I went walking and noticed that our neighbor had about 50 blooms – bigger and brighter and prettier – and immediately I felt bad about my poor little flowers.  Why?! If they made me happy before and they were beautiful before why did I get sad just because somebody else’s was bigger? Why do I always have to compare myself to everybody else? Why if I go walk for an hour and then I hear about somebody else that went running why do I feel bad about myself when I just felt good about myself? Why does everything feel like a competition? I am hopeful that the awareness of this and how common it is in my everyday life will move me toward contentment and aware from comparison.
My neighbor’s daffodils
My daffofils

Disappointment

I appreciate how happy and just good I feel overall, especially considering that yesterday was a big day for another reason. Yesterday I lost a free trip to Puerto Vallarta that I have worked toward for a year. All it took was consistent effort – totally manageable, totally doable for anyone who is willing to do the work. And for the first ten months I did the work. And then I stopped. I let a lot of other things come up and take priority. Instead of continuing to put in literally 15 to 60 minutes a day it would’ve taken to stay qualified I chose to do nothing. I’m not sure why other then I do have a tendency to get sidetracked and focus on one big thing at a time. I’m not sure exactly why, but it happened.  And here’s what I do know. It’s OK. Am I disappointed? Yes. I’m disappointed in myself but I am also proud of myself because I realize that it’s all on me. And just being able to feel bad and accept that responsibility honestly feels good. There are so many things that are out of my control but the things that I truly am responsible for?  Those I can fix, those I can work on. There are things that I have let slide that I should not have. There are things that I should have followed up on that I didn’t. And for that I’m truly sorry. There’s nothing to be done but learn and move forward.
If there are areas where you are struggling, take the time to figure out what you need to do, or not do, to move forward.  Recognize all of the great things you are doing and don’t be so hard on yourself!  If a close friend made a mistake here and there would you constantly berate them for it?  Hopefully not!  But we do it to ourselves all the time and we need to stop and be kinder, more loving. Do you find yourself making comparisons often, and if so, how does that impact you?
Friendship and faith in adulthood

Friendship and faith in adulthood

WTF? (relax – it means “where’re the friends”!)

I have always liked people.  I was friendly with everyone in elementary school and had one close/best friend.  It seemed so easy when we were young! In middle school my friendships changed, but I still had one close friend and a lot of other superficial friendships.  The middle school years were not completely smooth sailing for me and I made some bad choices.  Then I went from one long-term relationship to another one, and neither one of them went to my school, so I wasn’t very involved in school activities.  This all led to me having a lot of acquaintances and very few actual friends.  As I entered adulthood and started working I had the same pattern – one close friend, friendly with everyone else. I then got married and we were busy raising kids and neither one of us really had friends outside of work, with the exception of a few friends that my husband stays in occasional, superficial contact with. I of course have one close friend and several acquaintances – shocking, right? I think that part of my personality makeup is such that this is what works best for me.  Scratch that – not best, easiest. Because if it was what is best, I don’t think I would have this constant feeling of missing out.

Is it me?

Back in my middle school days, there was a period where I was bullied by a group of girls.  And then I ended up in group therapy with one of them.  That was fun! Okay, not so much at the time, but there was something she said that has stuck with me.  When asked to describe me, she said I was stuck up and thought I was better than everyone. What?!  Me?? No, no, no, that’s not right at all!  I was worried that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, enough.  I had no idea that my insecurities were coming across that way. This revelation really didn’t make a huge impact on me then, but I have thought of it off and on since then.  I consider myself to be very friendly and like-able (sorry if this hyphenation troubles any of you; it was one of the auto correct options.  Apparently “likable” is the right spelling, but I see it as “lickable” and don’t like it), but maybe that’s not the case.  I feel like I can talk to anyone one-on-one, especially if they initiate the conversation.  It’s the moving beyond the initial convo that gives me trouble.

It’s not just me!

I started looking into this a little more, because honestly, I felt like I was just out of luck.  I have told myself for years that 30-somethings and now 40-somethings already have their circle of friends and that is just that. But maybe it isn’t.  See, I love social media, especially Facebook.  It’s a great way to connect with all of those acquaintances that I haven’t spoken to in years, stay in touch with family, and get the word out about my business.  But it can also be a source of discontent.  Seeing pics of groups of friends from high school or college reuniting and having a blast is great, but makes me sad that I don’t have that. And it can give you a false sense of friendship and intimacy.  I read an article about friendship in Live Happy magazine  that says since I have a close friend I’m in good shape.  And I agree to a certain extent.  I am incredibly grateful for my best friend.  She knows me and all of my crazy moodiness and quirks and loves me anyway.  It’s not that I want twelve people that I could call in the middle of the night, but just having a few people close enough that I could call (not message via some app, actually have their number and call them) and see about going to a movie or dinner or just hanging out – that’s what I want.  And I guess I’m not alone – there is a website called GirlFriendCircles.com that is geared toward “introducing women, inspiring friendship.”  There is a cost to join, and I’m not convinced I need to take this step just yet, but it’s nice to know that there are other women facing the same issues.  I just downloaded the free report, “Ten Ways to Meet New People” and I’m happy to say I’ve been doing a couple of them lately!

Stepping outside my comfort zone

Remembering that I have come across as snobby and standoffish in the past, I knew I needed to do something.  What if there are women out there thinking the same things I am thinking?  Women who would love to have someone to chat with and connect with?  People who know me well would probably be surprised by most of this. I love to talk (sometimes too much) and love to be around people.  But I have come to the conclusion that I am an introverted extrovert, which I think is explained incredibly well here.  I recently realized how much the part about being social but then needing alone time is totally me.  I had a great extended lunch with a friend and we talked and talked but the next day I was much more withdrawn at home, and even on edge when there was too much stimulation.

I have know that there was this void for a while.  It’s painfully clear to me at church, where we have attended for seventeen years.  It’s a big church.  And probably ten people (maybe) know me by name.  That’s sad and ridiculous and completely my fault.  So I have decided to be bold (well, bold for me).  Here are a couple of things that I have done in the past couple of weeks to get more comfortable meeting new people.

  • I introduced myself to someone from church at Target.  This is one of those people that everyone knows (she happens to have beautiful hair that is just “her”) and so I feel like I know her, but I don’t.  So I walked by her and then I turned around and walked back and said something along the lines of, “You don’t know me but I go to X Church and I just wanted to introduce myself.”  I think then I rambled on a bit, and then we chatted and she was incredibly sweet and it was a little awkward but I did it.  And I didn’t die or do anything really embarrassing, so that’s something.
  • I asked someone out for coffee via Messenger.  Again, someone that I know from church and know who she and her husband are, but they don’t know me.  She actually initiated the conversation in response to a post I had made and it seemed like we had some things in common, so I asked if she’d like to get together for coffee sometime.  As I typed the question to her, my finger paused before I hit send. When I finally poked the screen, I just sat there for a minute staring at it, thinking how glad I was that I never really dated.  That simple little coffee request was stressful!! And then she said sure and we met for coffee this week and it was fun.  I don’t know if we will ever meet up again.  What I do know is that there wouldn’t have been any hope of a friendship starting without my tiny bit of courage.
  • I am going to a networking event next week. Again I am stepping outside my comfort zone, but I am having faith that just on the other side is where the good stuff happens! Jim Rohn said, “For things to change, you have to change” and I believe that wholeheartedly.  So little by little I’m trying to reach out and create the relationships I want without letting that negative voice in my head discourage me.  We’ll see how it goes!

    I’d love to know your thoughts on friendship! And please subscribe and share! I’m looking for new blog friends! 🙂