One thing she said has stuck with me since then. She said, "I generally assume people like me until proven otherwise."
This honestly stopped me in my tracks. I was kinda of flabbergasted at the thought. I have never, ever, even once walked into a social situation thinking that people would like me. In fact, it's almost exactly the opposite in my case. I most always assume people won't like me. That they won't talk to me. Or worse, they'll be openly mean to me.
This feeling even crops up sometimes when I'm about to meet up with my FRIENDS. Yes, it's true. Some days I'm terrified that maybe my friends don't like me (They know this about me, poor things, and try to take care of me as best they can.). I always worry they'll get tired of me and disappear. It's happened before, after all. Those many years of being left out come flooding back occasionally, and I think, "Maybe this will be the day it happens again. Maybe this person or that one will finally admit they don't like me."
So you can imagine my first reaction to this friend's statement was a considerable measure of envy. This friend of mine is beyond likable, the kind of infectious personality that can make just about anyone smile (I'm pretty sure the power lies in her dimples.). She has that ease of being in public that someone like me (hi, social anxiety) could never hope to have. But it still seemed a little audacious, if not cocky, to even think that people would just LIKE you upfront.
That envy quickly became admiration though. I wish I had that kind of confidence. Okay, HALF that confidence. Try as I might, I still can't even begin to think that way. Oh, how I want to. Sometimes I wonder if I would be more likable just by adopting that mentality, or if I would still stumble over my words and blush like a fool in public. I wonder if people like my friend because she believes they will, and if I hold myself back by not trusting the world to be kind to me.
I don't know the answer, all I know is I can't forget what she said. I can never go back to thinking that everyone is like me, that everyone just assumes people won't like them. I try to think differently. When I get scared of social things, I even think of my friend who can charm a whole room and try to tell myself I can do the same if I just believe people will like me. But honestly? It hasn't worked yet. I still can't sleep the night before a conference or a signing (And not even my OWN signing!) because I worry about talking to people. I worry about what they think of me—what they'll say about me when I'm not around. I am terrified to death of offending someone unintentionally. Gosh, I'm panicking just writing about this stuff.
As bad as I fail at this concept, I want so much to succeed at it. Even if it's in a small way. Gosh, if I could get to the point that I didn't question my own friends', uh, friendship, I'd be overjoyed.