Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Giving away power

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).


Starshine said...

Haha! Look at you putting that out there!

I remember that night well. I had no idea you were so nervous. :) I was nervous, too, meeting so many of your friends in one night. It all worked out great! And look what good friends Jenn and Dave have become!

J at said...

It's funny that you were so nervous. I don't mean that in a mean way. But Tracy is so awesome, I can't imagine anyone not loving her to pieces.

That being said, I remember my husband meeting my friends for the first time, and me meeting his friends for the first time, and how NERVOUS I was that all must love him, and all must love me, because I love him so much, I wanted everyone to love us together and approve. :)

And regarding the psychologist, I've always been curious, and some of my best friends (and husband) have been, and said it can really help. So no judgment here, except that you're smart for seeking guidance and help if and when you need it. Too many people try to work things through for themselves, and fail miserably.