Recently I became disgruntled when someone asked me a question about the way I live my life. The question itself did not particularly annoy me, but the undertones that I detected in the questioner's voice put me on the defensive. I was careful not to show my annoyance outwardly because I'm just stubborn enough not to want this particular person to know that her pushy demeanor had gotten under my skin. But it DID!
I cannot recall the exact words that this woman used to "attack" me in her question, but the basic theme of her inquiry was whether or not I was happy with where my life choices have placed me. She wanted to know if I was content with my current situation and, if I were to live my life all over again, would I choose to do things differently so that I could be in a better or different place? My answer was, emphatically, that I would not change anything.
Poor Choices Have Helped Build my Character
The choices I've made in life are behind me and I don't waste time regretting any of them. Do I think I made poor choices at times? Of course I do, but hey, that's what happened. Some of my choices may have landed me in unpleasant circumstances, but experiencing these things certainly built my current character. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for those character-building situations. Take any of those choices out of the equation and I'd be an entirely different person. I don't want to be another person, I like my person.
It became clear to me that this woman, who is privy to some of my personal history, could not relate to my choices and was curious as to how I felt about them. I felt like I was under a microscope and being examined through the eyes of a careless, meddling, critic. I may have been reading her all wrong, but it felt as if she viewed my life as having little significance and absolutely nothing worthwhile to embrace. She acted greatly surprised when I told her I was very content with my life and would not do anything different, if given the opportunity.
It irked me that she was looking at me with a critical point of view. Basically I sensed that she was flabbergasted with my response. My eyes focused upon her face and saw a look that asked "How could you possibly be okay with the status quo?" Perhaps her astonishment to my answer revealed more about how she felt about herself than how she felt about me. I wondered if perhaps she might actually be harboring regrets from her own past and simply assumed that everyone else would also.
Reflecting on my Initial Reaction
However, now that a few days have gone by and I've had more time to reflect, not on her question, but on my reaction to her question, I realize that I may not be entirely "okay" with how things are with me and my life in general.
I'm certainly not happy when others look at me with critical intention. And although, intellectually, I know that I have no control over the way others view me, I can still get caught up in that old trap of wanting everyone to look favorably at me. As a child it was very important for me to have others think well of me. I took some hard knocks emotionally whenever I realized that someone didn't desire me as their friend. Ouch! I eventually learned that it was okay if someone didn't particularly care for me. I came to this realization only after I thought about certain children among my peers in my grade school classes whose personalities I didn't care for. If it was okay for me not to like everyone, then I certainly could not expect everyone to care for me. I came to the conclusion that it was okay not to be liked by everyone. You're okay. I'm okay. We don't have to be friends for us all to be okay.
Reevaluating Past Life Lessons
Life has a way of recycling its lessons to make sure we have learned them thoroughly. The insecure child inside me does care what others think about her. "What's not to like?" my inner child says to herself.
Here I am, only a few weeks away from my fiftieth birthday, and the universe suddenly slaps me with a simple question that awakens in me the unnerving feeling that I need to reevaluate my current state of affairs for a second time. Am I truly walking a "path with heart," as Don Juan Matus would ask?
What do you do when a person for whom I hold no great esteem, suddenly confronts me with words that brought certain childhood feelings bubbling back up to the very surface of my being? Just how deep is the need to be liked by our peers and the greater need to be acknowledged by them for having lived a worthy life buried in my psyche? I wonder.
Don't Stick a Fork in Me - I'm Not Done Yet
Now, as I am faced with reevaluating my strong desire to be regarded favorably by others, I have come to realize that I am most comfortable when I am not being regarded at all by people, rather than being regarded unfavorably. "See me kindly or please don't look at me" could easily be my motto. Unfortunately, we cannot all live under rocks and avoid uncomfortable confrontations. I must admit that this woman, who got under my skin with her rude questioning, actually offered me a gift. Now I get to look deeper inside and discover more about myself. Yes, that's a gift. A valuable gift!
But, if you were to ask me the same questions: "Are you happy with your life?", would you change anything or do anything different?", no matter what the tone resounding in your voice, or intention revealed by your demeanor? My answer would be the same]
Yes, I am content with my current life. I would not change a single thing. I take responsibility for all my past choices and value them for the life lessons they offer. Naturally, I'm not finished evolving yet. My life is not at a standstill. I'm a work in progress, so please don't stick a fork in me. I'm not quite done yet!
How to Life Your Life Without Regrets
Copyright © 2004 Phylameana lila Désy