Friday, May 08, 2009

Hip Mamas

There are these women whose children go to the same preschool as Boo. They intimidate the hell out of me. They're very nice and very cool, in that casual, crunchy way that is so prevalent out here. They wear cool skirts and have funky haircuts and seem to have it all together. I realize this is probably an illusion, but still. I don't know them well enough to hear their tales of woe, so, to me, they're scary-together.

I see them hanging out after pick up, talking, arranging play dates and what have you and I know if I made a little bit of effort, I'd at least be included in the conversation. But I never do. I smile, I say hello, exchange a couple of sentences and then I scuttle to my car with the girls, mentally berating myself for not being more outgoing, for not trying harder. For being an idiot. Because the other part of my brain, the one that tells me what a dork I am, how much of a loser I am, always takes over at that point. Why would anyone want to include me? What if they didn't, what if they just clammed up when I tried to join in? What if they were just waiting for me to leave so they could make their plans? What if they don't really like me?

That's the crux of it right there. I'm pretty convinced that most people I know casually don't really like me. Sometimes, even people I do know well give me that feeling. I let every rejection eat away at me, dragging up crap that happened in high school, in college, and picking at it until it hurts again, convinced that all those people were right, that basically, I'm unlikeable. I hate that my mind goes down those paths. I wish I knew how to get it out of them.

So I'm wary. I'm afraid to make friends with people I meet, afraid that they'll turn out like everyone else, that they'll leave too. I wall myself off behind snark and sarcasm and a pose that I'm above it all, when really, I just want to be included. More than included. Valued. Appreciated for who I am and what I can offer as a friend. And yet, I'm too afraid to try.

Yes, I'm in therapy. Yes, I'm trying to work on this, but I feel so stuck on this one thing. How do you just get self-confidence? How do you not second- and third-guess every action you take? I'm not sure if it's even possible, but I need to try, before I really go bat-shit crazy.

24 comments:

Auds at Barking Mad said...

OMG welcome to my world. Hey, maybe we should double on one of our therapy appointments! *lol* I'll buy the coffee afterward.

Seriously, I could have written this post. You speak so well, the words that live in my head. I think this is one of the reasons I am so terrified to meet people from the blogosphere...or hell, people in general. Rejection is my middle name and I really can't handle any more of that IRL.

LauraJ said...

that's me. i wonder how any one can like me when i don't even like me!

elizasmom said...

See, this is the bummer of our kids not being in the same session. Because then we could stand around feeling awkward together.

Jill said...

Aw! You're no loser! Though I feel the same way sometimes. I'm convinced that people are nice to my face, but then say horrible things to each other about me behind my back. Or that they only include me in or invite me to things because they feel guilty, not because they really want me there. Living inside this head can really suck sometimes!!

Life As I Know It said...

You know, I think a lot of the self confidence and being comfortable in your own skin thing comes with age. I find the older I get, the more I like myself and care a little less about what other people may thing of me. I am who I am. And I'm ok with that.
It also helps to think to yourself "what's the worst thing that could happen if I ____" (fill in the blank).
AND I bet a lot of other moms feel exactly the way that you do.
Good luck - sometimes those preschool mom "cliques" can definitely feel intimidating.

Traceytreasure said...

Louise Hay's books helped me replace that negative internal dialogue with positive affirmations. I have trust issues with people IRL since my BFF left her hubby, kids and me and started partyin'
Don't worry though when you get to be my age you'll have a "Fuck 'em if they don't like me" attitude!
It's awesome!!

Hugs!!

T- said...

At the risk of being cliche'... I could have totally written this entry. Seriously.

Mama G said...

When I was in the 4th grade, the day immediately following my 9th birthday my three best friends met me on the street corner by my house so we could play. Or so I thought. Instead, they told me that they didn't like me and no longer wanted to be my friend.

That hurtful experience has affected my self-confidence and my ability to make close friendships my whole life.

I've come a long way, thankfully. And I know everyone has different coping mechanisms - but what helped me was doing volunteer work. Everything I did for them, every project I took on, was met with such praise and appreciation that it was the first step in helping me start to value myself once again.

All that said ... I still don't have quite enough confidence to approach those Hip Mamas, either. Still a work in progress, am I.

Schmutzie said...

You are being featured on Five Star Friday!
http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2009/05/five-star-friday-edition-53.html

Zazzy said...

I wish I knew how to change this - if we ever figure it out we can go on tour selling our marvelous system for instant self-confidence. In the meantime, in my world you get social points just for smiling and exchanging a few words.

Christina said...

Um...yeah, you just wrote about me. I'm horribly self-conscious, with low self-esteem. When I do work up the nerve to say hi to others, I often find myself sounding like an idiot, or stuttering. It's embarrassing.

Even online I feel like an outsider. I watch my stats far too closely and as I've seen the numbers drop, I take it personally. Dumb, right?

You're going to be at BlogHer, right? I hope we can meet up and drown our low self-esteem in a few cocktails. Game?

Colleen said...

I think you'd be a wonderful friend to have!

sandy shoes said...

There is a quote of Eleanor Roosevelt's that helps me when I'm feeling like that, which, like so many of us, is much too often. It is: "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." It helps me to remember that *I* control how I feel about myself.

All too often, I continue to feel like crap anyway.

But sometimes, it helps to remember that the hip mamas, or equivalent, don't have that power unless I hand it over.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Holy crow, this post scared me b/c last night, I wrote this to my sister: "I've had a couple other incidents of being blown off by people I tried to make friends with . . .I don't know what it is about this town, but I just don't feel like I fit in with the people here. I have so many acquaintances, it's crazy, but real friends in this area? I could count them on one hand. Seriously."

So, you aren't alone my dear. Can I hang on to your arm at BlogHer???

kittenpie said...

I can't approach those people, either, and my hood is full of them. I'm not so much worried that they won't like me as that I just feel too disheveled and disorganised and generally NOT together, so it makes my shy self retreat even further to avoid the compaisons I will inevitably make. Which I make anyhow, but only for the few minutes before I escape the playground in favour of my own company in the coffee shop. Good thing I like my own company.

Auds at Barking Mad said...

Oh look, it's me again. Just wanted to come by and wish one of my favourite mom's a VERY VERY HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

I hope your day is every bit as awesome as you are.

harmzie said...

Wow. As I was reading this, I thought "Am I actually schitzophrenic and wrote this in another personality?" Then I read the other comments & decided that if I have multiple personalities, I sure have a lot of them: Hello all you mes!

The situation you describe (school) is me. Both at school & my girls' dance class. The moms (and dads) have their groups all together. There are two things that keep me (somewhat) grounded: (1) I have some very long-term friends that have stuck with me despite some weird crap that I feel I've pulled (2) a friend/parent at the school who appears the same way (together/plugged-in/knows everyone, etc etc). I know her personally, and while *I* think she's got it (mostly of course!) together, I'd bet she'd say otherwise and echo your comments here.

SUEB0B said...

Here's a hint I learned in Journalism school: it's not about you being likeable. It is about you finding something to like in them. When people sense that you are interested in them, they really open up and blossom and leave space for you to be yourself, too.

That's my little Dale Carnegie lesson for the day. You might read his book - how to win friends and influence people. It is still right on.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

It dawned on me the other day while talking with some friends after preschool drop-off that I am one of those types of women you're intimidated by. I'm in a clique. Without the funky haircuts and cool clothes, but still part of a clique. It sort of happened over time but now we're a group of friends who congregate to talk about playdates and mom's night out trips to the bar.

So, as one of those women, I am telling you to go say hello. I speak from personal experience when I say that I've met some wonderful women who had the nerve to start a conversation with me because I was too shy to start one with them. And now they're part of the group too. Personally, I hate feeling as if someone thinks they can't join our group. The more the merrier!

(Of course, I can't speak for those women. I'm working out my own issues here. You're welcome.) :)

Patois said...

I was just like that. You know what changed me? My dad died. Yeah, that's "it." It's when I realized there were such horrible things that could happen, everything else was a breeze. Ever since then, I'm definitely so much more going for it.

Weird blessings, eh?

Andrea said...

You don't get the self-confidence first. You approach that first time and it's terrifying and you get self-confidence form having done it, and then the next time it's easier.

This is what I tell myself, but it's a hard hard struggle, because I have the same voices in my head too. Hey, for all you know, those two crazy-together moms are thinking, how does she have it all so together? Doesn't she have four kids? Oh my god, I could never function in the morning with four kids! And her husband's away all the time....

A suggestion I got from a friend once (about something else, but kind of related) was to try what OCD-sufferers are told to try when their obsessions kick in: tell yourself it's only your brain firing random signals. The signals mean nothing; there is actually no danger. Sometimes it makes it easier to ignore those messages.

Mike said...

God, I wish I had an answer for that myself. Sometimes I just suck it in and go for it realizing that I could just end up looking like an idiot....

Josie said...

I think we all feel that way at times.
I did when my son was in public school and now again in University.

I don't fit. I'm younger than most of the other parents, not as well off and make inappropriate comments when I'm nervous.

All I can suggest hon is that you believe in yourself a little more. I know your not all those things you said about yourself and I know the people you know are not thinking that.

Stop beating yourself up and start remembering what a wonderful wife, mother, woman you are. You have a lot to offer.

Sarahtoo said...

OMG, I totally get this. I think everybody must feel that way at some point, but it sucks all the same. And I know what you mean about the scary-together mommies, too. Especially when I'm around the SAHMs after school on the one day a week I pick up my 6yo, I feel like I really don't belong. It took me the whole school year to talk to them, and now that I have, the school year's over!

I find that if I can fake the confidence, it usually gets easier, if not completely real. It's like, if I pretend that I'm completely comfortable in my skin (which in truth, I am, except when confronted with such pulled-together women as the other moms at school), I might be some day. Honestly, I don't think anyone is ever truly self-confident all the time--some are just better at faking it than others.