We've all had one of those days. There I was, at the back of a very long line at my local Wally World. I hadn't slept well the night before, my doctor's appointment earlier that day ran ninety minutes late, and I had a nagging headache. I just wanted to get home.
A cashier manning the register next to me caught my attention and pointed to the "20 Items or Less" lane. "She'll take you over there," she said.
Nobody was in line. I looked down at my cart, knowing I had at least thirty or more items. I shrugged and pushed my cart over to the express lane. No sooner had I begun unloading my groceries when three people got in line behind me. One woman had a pair of leggings draped over her arm. The other two had three gallons of milk and a jar of peanut butter between them.
The woman with the leggings didn't seem to notice I was way over my item limit. But the other two were giving me dirty looks and shifting their focus from the Express Lane sign to my cart to me. I felt bad. I wanted to defend myself and say, "Hey! The cashier said I could get in this line!" I even opened my mouth to say something, but then I stopped short.
"Why do you feel the need to do this?" a little voice inside my head asked.
I went on with my business and loaded my groceries into my car. But I couldn't get the incident out of my mind. Why do so many of us, especially as women, feel compelled to explain ourselves all the time? Or defend ourselves for the choices we make or the things we do?
My husband has told me for years, "Honey, you'd be a lot better off if you stopped caring so much about what other people think."
As I've gotten older, I've tried to embrace the wisdom of that. But it's so hard for me to do.
I had a friend in high school who loved to do silly things in public to see what kind of reaction she'd get. One of her favorite things to do was let loose with this loud, snorting laugh while sitting at a study cubicle in the library or at the theater right before the movie started.
I would stare at her, horrified, and she would just smile and say, "These people are never going to see my face again!"
Life is too short to worry about unnecessary things, especially the perceptions of people we don't even know! We have no control over what others think or say about us. Our true friends and family love us for who we are, not who we appear to be. To embrace that is so freeing.
"When we finally let go... that's when the real fun begins."
~ The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
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