I had a moment today that I rarely like. A moment when I was faced with a hard reality– I had to look at myself.
I am the type of person who goes through life thinking that people see me in a certain way. I think they see me as resourceful, smart, funny, kind, and convivial. I think they think of me as the type of person they want at the party, but when they have a couch to be moved or an ear to bend, yes, they see me as someone to call on. I am proud of the relationships I have developed because of these qualities, and I think my acquaintances and colleagues have a pretty good impression of me, too.
However, somewhere in the space where I have created this euphoric sense of self, it happens: someone reminds me the cast I perceive is not quite accurate.
As we do everyday, today at lunch we were sitting and talking, and we started talking about the housing bubble and the stress of foreclosure. Somehow the conversation digressed into a conversation about stress in general. Work stress. Kid stress. Financial stress. You name it, we were all commiserating about all feeling stressed and pressured over one thing or another. I was sitting next to my friend Cherish and I intimated that I tried not to let stress get to me. She turned, and with a sense of recognition in her face she said, “Yeah. You’ve been really good this year. You haven’t even cried once.”
Ouch. There it was. The cold, hard reality of how people perceive me– the one aspect of my personality I try to ensconse and shelter from the day of light: I am emotional. The reality of the matter is that her impression of me is accurate. I am a crier. I take it personally. I struggle with compartmentalizing my life.
My dad often yelled at me for wearing my heart on my sleeve. Growing up, whenever I cried he would rarely coddle me. He would remind me how difficult life was going to be for me if I let every comment, every gesture, every action affect my perceptions and reality. However, he was wrong. Feeling everything is not always pleasant but I only have one go at this thing called life, and I might as well relish every moment passionately. Yes, I was reminded today how people perceive me. A resourceful, smart, funny, kind, convivial woman who embraces emotion: affection and agitation, fervor and despondency, sensibility and sorrow.
I, Cheryl Huffer, feel my way through life. And it usually feels pretty good.