Monday, September 23, 2013

One doesn't have to be the loneliest number

Yesterday, I crossed something off my bucket list. I went to the movies by myself.

Now for some people, this isn't a big deal. I have friends who love going to the movies alone. But for me it was a significant thing. I probably could have found someone to go with me, but it was important to me to do it on my own.

I have realized that I base way too much of my own self esteem on what I think others think about me. It's not even what people say or do, but how I perceive it. And it's kind of messed up.

As I settled into my chair (I saw The Butler, by the way. Fabulous.) with my small popcorn (OK, and Junior Mints, which no one cared if I dumped into the popcorn bag), I panicked a little. Am I the only one all by myself? Look at that group of girlfriends who are together for a movie date. Do people think I have no friends? No one who loves me?

The bigger question: Should it matter?

I wish I could say no. Unfortunately, I let it matter all too much. But I allowed myself to be a little uncomfortable, and then I enjoyed the movie. I walked out of there almost like I would after a good workout--with a big sense of accomplishment. Being alone isn't so bad.

Here's the thing about me. I've always been desperate to fit in--no matter the circumstance. My former women's group began in a rocky way for me, with one member telling me I didn't need to try so hard, that they already liked me. It hurt my feelings, but she was right. And it made me see things from a new perspective.

I hate that I'm jealous and insecure. I struggle with that especially in big groups of friends. I worry that no one really wants me there--that the only reason I'm there is because of the one person that really likes me who says "Come on, guys. I know you don't really like Erika, but give her a chance." And then I ruin it by trying annoyingly too hard. Almost every time I leave a group of two or more friends, I analyze how I acted and if they will want me around in the future. And then I tell myself that the NEXT time, I'll be less chatty, less desperate, less insecure.

Why am I telling you all this? It is a little hard for me to write about, because it's embarrassing and perhaps the part of me I most dislike. I long to be confident and not worry if people like me. I mean, my friends love me. So why do I question this? Constantly? It creates a vicious cycle.

I think about my movie date with myself. Of course I'll question whether or not people like me. I mean, I don't even like hanging out with me.

It's something I am trying to work on--being OK with being who I am--whether that's in a group or by myself.

But I hope people who love me will remind me, like my very wise friend did once upon a woman's group, that I don't have to try so hard. Being myself is enough.


Anonymous said...

I wish you could see you the way I see you. A smart, pretty young woman who keeps it real!!! Love you, Love you!!! And I am not the only one that feels that way. I love the subjects you touch upon because I can relate to them. Keep up the great job you are doing.

Norma-Weight Watchers

Cole said...

Well, I think your worries about being liked is extremely normal! Atleast, I feel pretty darn similar. Esp. the part about analyzing my behavior... But I know that might not make you feel much better. Or maybe it will, because you just made me feel a little bit better.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that I can't wait to try Junior Mints in my popcorn!

Anonymous said...

I can't say it as well as Norma. It's all true. You have no idea the sheer number of people that feel this way.

You are beautiful, smart and witty and although you might not realize it, an inspiration, ten years ago or today.

You are loved.

Erika said...

Thanks for your sweetness, Norma, Anonymous and Cole. Cole, your comment made me laugh out loud. Junior Mints and popcorn will change your life. :)

Anonymous said...

I read this and had to remind myself that I didn't write it, even though it reminds me of me!

Oh, the unfounded insecurities we put ourselves through!

Cole said...

Last night I told some friends about wanting to try Junior Mints in my popcorn. After quoting lines about Junior Mints from Seinfeld, they asked for details. So we havea few questions: what size popcorn makes the best ratio? Do you shake it up or do the Junior Mints rest on top? Do the Junior Mints get soft from the heat of the popcorn?

Erika said...

Cole, I usually get a small popcorn. No butter. I don't want mine completely melted, so I let the popcorn cool a little (usually it's fine by the time you settle into the movie seat). I eat a little popcorn off the top to make room for the JMs. Then I pour the whole box in and shake the bag a little to distribute them. It's a careful work of culinary art, I tell you.

I'm so glad I'm inspiring new movie treats. ;)