January 26, 2012

Oh, Cruel World

"Self is a Cruel Master."
You know the feeling. You go to a party, which you’ve prepared for meticulously. You spent weeks dieting and getting your hair cut and highlighted and finding just the right little black dress. You had big plans for this party. Maybe you were sure a certain someone would show up. Or maybe you’ve always had the best time at this particular friend’s house. But then you go and it’s a total flop. Your timing is off all night, and you offend at least one person and maybe you get drunk or maybe you say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. So despite ~ or maybe because of ~ your high expectations, the evening is a disaster.

Or maybe you post something very heartfelt online. You worked so hard on it and it bares your soul and you believe it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. But, then, crickets. No one responds, even when you post to Facebook and Twitter and Google+, first a witty come-on and then a heartfelt but bitter, “If you love me, you’ll look at this.” Again, crickets.

I’m sure there’s a lot more examples of this type of thing. You put it out there, hang it all on the line, and the indifferent world shrugs and turns away.

There’s one thing that helps me a lot in these situations. Very early in our relationship, my husband said, “The world really doesn’t care about you. They all are more concerned about themselves ~ the way they look, their witty repartee, whether they’re bombing. They’re thinking about the next thing they’re going to say or about their last flub or about when it’s polite to bag it. So don’t take it personally.”

This has held me in good stead ever since. I rarely take things personally. Maybe even when I should. But I give them the benefit of the doubt. Call me obtuse. But thinking like that has gotten me through many an awkward ~ or what might otherwise be mortifying ~ situation. Online, someone will say something and I don’t get offended (mostly). I take it in the spirit that it’s offered, and when I do feel those familiar pangs, I tell myself, “Don’t be so self-centered as to think it’s personal. It’s not about you; it’s about them.”

In the meantime, I try to remember to forgive myself for not being that perfect person and to forgive everyone else for not anticipating my every need. The world is a wondrous and horrible place, for sure. (And forgive the proscriptive nature of this post.)


Shelly I said...

So true. It's all about them. Until you make it about them, and then people become very interested in you. We humans are funny that way.

The advice not to take that part of human nature personally is truly excellent. Kudos to Husband for wisdom.

Tamara said...

Thank you so much, Shelly! My husband will be very gratified. :-)

Aren't we funny beings?

Thank so much for stopping by!

~ Tamara

Dave said...

Your husband is smart.

If we didn't want our words to be read, we wouldn't be writers. I think the online world is a little TOO seductive in terms of getting readers immediately. I'm afraid I become a bit of a circus dog at times, doing little tricks so that my master, the audience, will applaud. Maybe my focus should be a little deeper, on what I truly think is important to say, even if I have to wait a while for the audience to come to me.

Now please respond to this post immediately!

Tamara said...

My husband is smart, isn't he?!

And may I say, you are looking mighty handsome today. Not to mention witty, debonair, and charming. And your writing shines with the brilliance of a thousand suns!

Yep. We're all needy two-year-olds begging for attention.

~ Tamara

Pembroke Sinclair said...

Fabulous post! And your hubby is so profane! I might take that as my motto (if you don't mind!).

Tamara said...

Go for it, P! :-)

Patty Chang Anker said...

Love this post - spent my whole life so afraid of losing face. Realizing now I'd much rather live fully, come what may (if I lose face, I can always put it back on).

Tamara said...

I LOVE that: If I lose face, I can always just put it back on. Thanks, Patty!