There are loads of things I’d probably change about myself if given half a chance. Longer, fuller hair…a quieter voice…lose the wrinkles. I don’t think I’m alone, either. Frankly, I’d be shocked if I found one person in twenty who said they didn’t at least have a few items they’d elect to change in their emotional or physical makeup.
I’m smart enough to know that none of these tiny things are all that important in the bigger scheme of life, but there’s one thing I’d really, really, really like to at least find a way to successfully reduce. Namely, the ever present phrase, “What will people think?”
I’m in my mid-forties. This is the time of my life that this particular phrase is supposed to be on the downhill slide. And yet, it still blasts through my head like one of those irritating sport horns!
I could name countless episodes where concern for public perception has limited my actions. Hell, it’s probably nagged me ten times since I got up this morning in some form or fashion. But the most recent episode to catch my attention was this weekend when the family and I headed out to the Blue Dome Arts Festival in Tulsa.
My youngest–a flower child in the making which thrills me to no end–decided to get her face painted. The lady was really good. I mean, it WAS an arts festival right? And as my baby walked away decked out with butterfly and glitter, I found myself envious. I posted this pic on Facebook along with the statement, “Wish I could still get away with face painting.”
Always quick on the draw, one of my writer pals, Kim Cleary, hit me back with, “You’re never too old, Rhenna.” Then another one, USA Today Best-Seller Marilyn Pappano, said, “It’s not age; it’s whether you mind what other people think.”
Hello, nail! My name’s hammer.
The face painting wasn’t the only thing I wanted to dive into. There were bright colored belly dancer outfits with outrageous sparkles and a too-long line for Henna Tattoos–and I wouldn’t have minded trying on either one.
Then my little one tugged me over to a vendor selling medieval looking flowery halos with streaming ribbons down the back. She looked up at me with her big brown eyes and I caved like a ten-foot tall Jenga stack on a seesaw. I’d always wanted one of those when I was a little girl, so I waited in line while she changed her mind five times until she got the right flower/color combination.
No, I didn’t buy one for myself, but I did wear hers around the house for a few minutes the next morning. The girls thought that was pretty damned funny. Hubby thought I’d started drinking before noon.
The only reason I didn’t dive in while we were there? What will people think? I couldn’t possibly…
I gauge damn near every step I take based on the perceived judgements of other people. Doesn’t matter what the topic is–tattoos to childcare–it’s all fair game.
Would I want to erase this cautionary mantra from my repetoir altogether? Probably not. I think God gave it to me to balance out my inner flower child. I figure he took one look at me and said, “Oh, boy. We’d better put an anchor on this one,” then slapped me with an overlarge helping of concern for public opinion to keep
my clothes on me out of jail.
Still, a little dilution would be nice. Kind of like a magic eraser that didn’t quiet get the job done.
What about you? What are your quirks? Do you have one you wished you could tone down or eradicate altogether? What are the tools you use to cope and balance the scales. Do you even want to?