Every day we continually assess the world around us. How do I look in these jeans? Does she like me, too? Is the direct report doing his job well? You know we were all told not to care what other people think; yet, I cannot find a single person who actually practices this manifesto. Rather, we all subjugate ourselves to the wants and needs of others to please them and perhaps receive a glimmer of hope that someone does indeed like us.
Recently, I was asked how the wife looked in an outfit that she had put on. First item to note: She picked this outfit herself, so she probably wants to wear it. Secondly, negative feedback prior to a Valentine’s date would not bode well. Lastly, she looked fine and I really didn’t care what she wore.
This last thought probably would get me into trouble if wife didn’t know me well enough. I rummage through my laundry basket looking for a clean pair of pants sans stains. I assume the wrinkles will shake out as I walk into work. Wife says I need to dress more fashionably, but alas, I am stuck in the grunge nineties waiting for Nirvana to come play my house party.
I have a simple experiment to offer you that will test your resolve when dealing with others’ opinions of you. We all have that pair of comfy, soft-waisted sweatpants and ragged shirt. Men don’t care… They’ll wear pajamas to work if their job security was there. This may be sexist, but I don’t think women would wear that outfit, albeit THEIR FAVORITE outfit outside of the house without feeling under the watchful eye of someone they know. “I bet Ms. So and So down the street would say something if she saw me in that.”
Now that I will be lampooned by all sorts of left-wing feminist activists for my questionable thoughts, I turn to my own nagging self-doubt. I think the reason that we need to have others validate us primal; man does not exist to be alone. Sure, I like to be LEFT alone when it’s chore time, but really, I get bored after a few days by myself. Last spring, after the major surgery, I spent almost a week by myself, unable to leave the bed without crawling on my butt to make it downstairs and then heaving myself with my weakened arms back to the room. Mostly, I sat there and stared at a TV screen for 20 hours a day. It was nice to avoid the kids’ harassment, but I sort of missed my wife’s.
This morning I woke up before everyone else and drove to the gym where several people were swimming besides me. I made it back before the kids woke up and sent them both to school. So, I think when we are alone, it may be boring but livable; when we feel alone, it is miserable.