I recently participated in a family meditation retreat over a weekend. I spent an entire weekend in a lodge full of strangers I had never met before. Even roomed with a family I did not know. I told a friend about this, and she was surprised–she said “You?? But you hate people!”
Yes, I hated people. I mean I truly despised people in general. There were very few people I could honestly say I enjoyed.
I have realized lately that I used to be so private and guarded because I didn’t trust people and didn’t want people to know certain things about me–that I wanted to choose who I could deem trustworthy enough to reveal certain aspects of me and my life. I didn’t want to expose myself to others who could potentially discover things about me or my life if I couldn’t control who would know, or what they would know.
But lately I’ve discovered that’s not the real issue or concern. I’m OK now with putting myself out there (in a not-oversharing sort of way), being in the mix, being me with people in general because the issue is not WHAT they find out about me and how they’ll judge me or use that information, but the issue is HOW I deal with their behaviors that I couldn’t control in the first place. What kind of behaviors I’ll accept, what boundaries I’ll set forth, what expectations I’ll put out there.
So I’ve learned it’s not about staying away from people in general to avoid toxic people or frenemies, or for fear of being judged. But it’s in identifying inappropriate or unacceptable behaviors and deciding how to deal with them. It’s in teaching people how to treat me. That, I can control. And I’m so grateful for all the new friends in my life.