No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Last week someone I barely know informed me that I “don’t do anything all day.”
My daughter happened to be standing next to me, and, judging from the nervous flitting of her eyes between my face and that of my accuser, it would appear that she was well aware of a) the rudeness of the remark, and b) the tendency of her mother to react with swift and furious verbal retribution when attacked. It was, in fact, her anxious demeanor that reminded me to stop for a moment and consider the words I wanted to speak.
Because once you speak ’em, there’s no taking them back.
I bit back my initial reaction because it employed the use of “colorful” language. I’m not proud of this, but there it is. Sometimes I, a pastor’s wife (GASP), think bad words. Sometimes I even say them. I’m not totally without standards, however, and I don’t give free rein to my baser linguistic urges in public settings.
My next impulse was to refute the statement. After all, I could easily rattle off a long list of things I do all day, every day. But then I thought: why should I justify my actions to someone I hardly know — or even care to know?
I decided the comment should not be dignified with a response. It was, ahem, challenging to do so, but I ended up simply removing myself from the conversation, and walking away.
It should have been the end of an insignificant exchange with an unfriendly person. But it wasn’t.
That comment — that stupid, untrue, nasty comment — stayed in my head. It moved in, unpacked, and had all its mail forwarded to my brain. It affected my mood, my thoughts, and my attitude for an entire week.
You see, when the words “you don’t do anything all day” were spoken, what I actually heard was, “You are not enough.”
I started to think that maybe what I do every day isn’t valuable. After all, I don’t have a “real” job — that is to say, I don’t earn any money. I don’t have tangible evidence to prove that I’m “doing something.”
I began to feel trivial, and unimportant. I wondered if I was lazy, or selfish, or useless. I started to compare myself to other people and I always seemed to come up short.
Finally, after a miserable week of self-pity, a friend reminded me of a truth I learned a long time ago, but seemed to have temporarily forgotten — namely, that finding happiness in external validation is an impossible task. I could live out the rest of life spending everyday doing Really Important Activities and volunteering for endless Good Causes, and still there would some grumpy person who thinks I don’t really do all that much. There will always, always, ALWAYS be someone who thinks I am not enough.
That’s not my problem, though — or at least it shouldn’t be. After all, I know better. I AM enough, regardless of what anyone else may think of me. It’s time to move on, and get over it already. I’ve already wasted too much valuable life energy on this.
But if you really want to know what I do all day, I’ll tell you…
…whatever I want to do, that’s what.