Remember two months back I was in a blind panic over my daughter’s birthday? She was about to turn four and wanted to invite nursery friends to a party and I was thrown into a complete tizz over it? Me? Throw a party? What if no one turned up? What if people turned up and I couldn’t handle it? etc. etc.
Well, last weekend, we did it! Everyone turned up and the little lady thoroughly enjoyed herself, which is the main thing of course. I didn’t embarrass myself and I think I came across fairly normal, perhaps a little anxious and fussy but all well within the boundaries of “non-memorable and nothing to really gossip about” normal – I hope.
As a bonus my son enjoyed himself too. He often won’t go to big birthday parties so I was very concerned that he wouldn’t cope well, but cope he did, and extremely well too, he actually had fun.
I never do this, but I’m actually going to say I’m feeling proud of myself. Proud because before the party I was feeling so overwhelmed with panic, but I actually managed this once to suppress it so I didn’t spoil my daughter’s excitement. Proud because it was so terrifying having to greet something like 16 sets of parents, but I did it, I mingled, I chatted to everyone and was friendly despite wanting to hide in a corner.
Yes, you’ve probably guessed I couldn’t sleep the following night because I had the entire event on action replay in my head, over and over. But oddly, amidst the noise there was this logical little voice that I haven’t really heard much from before, and in the sleeplessness of the early hours of the morning I even made a few rational and sensible observations.
Firstly, I realised that the other mums weren’t this big intimidating homogenous group that I usually think of them as. A few of the more outgoing ones knew each other and seemed to know everyone, but quite a few were on their own and really only said a few polite words to each other.
There were a few moments when I felt uncomfortable, two mums in particular I just didn’t find especially friendly and found them hard work, which threatened to set off my paranoia and made me feel like I was perhaps getting it wrong. But actually, that new, quiet little voice of reason suddenly piped up saying; “That’s ok, maybe you’re not for them, and they’re not for you. And that’s fine.”
I’d be lying if I tried to make out I fully believe my sensible little voice even though it speaks the truth! But I’m trying to.
When I was over analysing my performance and trying to work out whether I got it right or wrong, and I really couldn’t tell… I suddenly realised, well, I tried to tell myself; that I was looking at this from the wrong angle. Forget about what people thought of me, what about what I thought of them? This experience has given me quite a good insight into the other mums and clues as to who I’d actually like to speak to and maybe even know better, who seemed interesting to me. As well as highlighting the people I need to play my cards a little closer to my chest around because they’re not the kind of people who would “get me” and I shouldn’t waste my time trying to win them over because even if I could, would I want to spend more time with them? No. So does it matter if they like me? No. I have no desire to pursue friendship with them so I don’t need to behave like a performing monkey around them trying to convince them how great I am!
But I wouldn’t have learned any of that without doing this. I would have just kept trying to make nervous chit-chat with everyone, trying to make everyone like me, on autopilot like always, without even considering where my time and energy might be best spent – because, important reminder to self: I don’t need or want to be popular, I am no longer consciously or unconsciously chasing that, I would be much happier surrounded by fewer people I can be myself around…
I am not for everyone and that’s okay. Everyone is not for me.
I know now who to just exchange pleasantries with and who might be more interesting to chat to. (Clue: it’s the quieter ones)
One habit I’d like to break though is being too open about myself before I know what the other person is actually like. I’m making myself vulnerable by doing this, also I often end up feeling stupid when my efforts at being self-deprecating and show how down to earth I am are met with the other person looking at me like they think I’m pathetic (yes, that’s what happened with the two I felt uncomfortable around in case you’re wondering) For my own self-worth I need to get out of that habit. I’m not sure how to break it though, I’ve learned a few “rules” in the last two years that have eluded me before, but I’m finding it hard to actually stop myself breaking them when I’m around real people, but that’s another topic for another day!
Anyway, all in all I’m calling it a success. I’ve not quite recovered my energy yet, but still, it’s a success!
I don’t often include pictures of me or my family, but to celebrate here is my favourite picture of me and my girl.