Once in college a friend asked if I would want to know what people say about me when I’m not around. My answer was an adamant “No.” If people said bad things about me, I didn’t care to know. The possibility people would say good things didn’t strike me then. Probably because, let’s face it girls, very rarely is our wine-night conversation about all the positive qualities in all of our friends, coworkers and ex-boyfriends. So at 19, I assumed if there was chatter about me, it must be negative. And I apparently preferred to remain in the cozy darkness of ignorance rather than discover areas I could improve in.
Now, be honest with yourself. What are people saying about you?
I’ve decided this question is propelling and paralyzing all at once. I have “an active imagination” as my mom has always told me, so I’m excellent at making up entire scenarios in my head in which people I know gather and discuss all of my deeply terrible qualities and how obvious they are and how bad I am at cooking and Zumba and following through and sitting still… That imagery is paralyzing. Self-centered and paralyzing. For what can I possibly accomplish in life when pockets of people are huddling together to talk smack every time my back is to them?
I like the propelling nature of this question much better. Who doesn’t have a list of characteristics or comparisons they hope pop in people’s heads when they talk about them? Like, “Oh Steve, he is so compassionate.” Or, “Molly, she always knows what to say at the right time.” Maybe even “Andrea? Home girl can dance.” Some may be spot on to who you already are and some may just be hopes of who you want to be. Let the question solidify the former and encourage you toward the latter.
Just always answer it honestly. And never assume pockets of people are huddling and talking about you. They probably don’t care that much.