When I was going to grad school, I was assigned to read an article about values in different socioeconomic groups. In all honesty, I rarely read much if any of the assigned reading in grad school. But I read this one. The article said that people in the higher range tended to value aesthetics, people in the middle class hard work, and those in the lower range were more interested in family connections. In fact, hard work was not valued because to them it didn’t make any difference.
Since I am solidly middle class with an almost unhealthy work ethic, this was puzzling to me. So I started making my own observations. What I found was very interesting. Hard work frequently paid off. But it didn’t always. Some times I could work hard and things still didn’t work the way they should. Other times I might drop the ball and things were just fine. Looking at it that way, it is easy to see how different people could come to believe such totally opposite things. It’s all in what we focus on.
I bring this up because it seems I have my own poverty mindset. I frequently say, “I don’t have many friends,” or, “People like me until they get to know me.” And I’ve come to realize that’s just not true. While it is true that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, that could be true of just about everyone. (Except my mother-in-law who I can’t imagine anyone not just really loving.) I had some pretty sad experiences growing up involving some ugly rejections. And I have really and truly not fit in in many, many situations. But does that mean that people don’t like me? I don’t think so.
Recently I’ve had another experience of rejection. And it hurt. A lot. But at the same time, because God is so good, I have had almost an embarrassment of riches in friend experiences. Some I have initiated and some have been initiated by friends. So, obviously the truth is that I do have friends. And people do like me. So why do I insist on say that I don’t and no one really likes me?
It’s that focus thing. I sometimes focus on how people rarely invite me to do things. I see pictures of friends doing thing together on Facebook and I think, “Why aren’t I included?” I may have a few weeks with no “friend activities,” and just get lonely.
So, I’ve been praying. And this is what I’ve learned. When someone rejects me, it’s really more about them than me. Maybe I’m not a “problem.” Maybe there is something in them that is reacting to me. Maybe it’s neither of our “faults.” It just is. Of course it goes the other way too. Maybe there is something in me that is reacting to those folks who annoy me too.
I am an extrovert. A bright red, flaming extrovert. I talk to total strangers all. the. time. In grocery stores. In check out lines. In restaurants. And that means that I attract and am attracted to introverts. Introverts often enjoy my energy. (My husband said he married me because he never wanted to be bored. And, after 32 years, he hasn’t. I’m not sure if that’s always good though.) But introverts are unlikely to call and invite me to do things. They just aren’t. So, I have decided that it will just be mostly my job to do the inviting.
But there’s a catch. I’m not very good at it….yet. It’s a skill I will work on developing. So, I am on the look-out for things I can invite friends to do. Go for a hike. Go shopping. Watch a movie. See a play. And little by little, I will unlearn my poverty mindset. Because the truth really is that I am very, very rich. I’m going to start living that reality.