Last week,the wife wrote a blog entry about feeling misunderstood and the desire we all have to "fit in."
It reminded me of an experience I had when we were first dating. During that nervous season of our relationship, I inited her to attend a seminar held at my church. Knowing that the room would be full of dozens of friends and acquaintances, my stomach was tied up in knots as we arrived. Eight months earlier, I ended a relationship that left me feeling unsettled about my newest venture back into the dating world. Representatives from nearly every facet of my life filled that room: a group of young college men that I mentored, grad school classmates, a favorite professor, a mentor, and many close friends. What were they all thinking? Did they "approve" of my newest female friend? Did they disapprove? I felt like an insecure American Idol contestant in a room full of Simons.
Panicking, I quickly introduced the wife to my friend David and his wife Jenn while I dashed off to the bathroom to hide.
Unfortunately, staying in the bathroom wasn't an option. I gulped down a couple of deep breaths and returned to the room. Somehow, I managed to make it through the rest of the evening while carrying a knot in my stomach the size of a grapefruit.
A few days later, I unpacked the experience with my psychologist. I'll never forget what he said. "Why do you give people so much power?", he asked.
Great question. Why do I give people so much power? Do I really want to go through life giving people that kind of authority over my life? Who cares what they think? Besides, they're not thinking about me anyway. They're too busy wondering what the rest of us are thinking about them. While input from others is valuable, especially when entering the uncharted waters of a new dating relationship, I realized that I give away way too much power. I learned a great lesson that night.
(But of course, I'm now wondering what all of you think about the fact that I met with a psychologist).