I have a confession…a somewhat shocking confession. As much as I pretend to be sassy and brassy and ballsy and badass, the fear of what people think of me permeates every aspect of my life. I will not walk my dogs because I’m afraid if they pull on their leash, people will assume they are poorly trained and report me to The Dog Whisperer. I also fear that because Doc has bald spots caused from allergies they will think he is mistreated. Tonight, Frank is meeting friends from back in the glory days when they were all big into the punk scene. I really want to go, but will probably bail because I’m afraid they are too cool for me, and will declare me lame. Tonight is also the Gypsy Poetry Slam. After winning four years ago, and then having my ass handed to me in front of a packed crowd the next year, I’m afraid if I attend people will recognize me and remember my pathetic performance, or will wonder why I’m not performing this year and deem me a has-been. Actually, I’m afraid that because I’m not attending the Kentucky Women’s Writers conference at all this weekend, people will think I’m not a REAL writer…or a real Kentuckian…or perhaps even a real woman. I’ve been carrying a gift card for a massage around for a year. I can’t make myself schedule an appointment because I have trepidations that the masseuse will think I’m fat. There are all kinds of fun adventures that I abstain from because I panic that I don’t have the proper outfit. I have this bizarre Paper Doll mentality, that I’m supposed to have the perfect costume for every occasion like Sunday Picnic at the Park dress, and Saturday at King’s Island Culottes. I know that it takes equal parts of deep-seated insecurity and paranoid vanity to live under the assumption that everyone is analyzing me all the time. But, this fear is becoming nearly paralyzing.
It must stop. So, I have decided to adopt a mantra that I will repeat every time these anxious thoughts enter my mind …my own version of “What would Jesus do?”…from now on I will chant, declare, and sometime yell to the rafters, “Fuck What People Think!” I’m even considering having FWPT tattooed on my forearm. At the least, I’ll have one of those rubber bracelets made. Hell, I may even do a whole line of jewelry. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. And, on a more esoteric note, I know the only thoughts I can control are my own. So instead of worrying about what people think of me, I’m going to be more cognizant of what I think of people, and how I can make those thoughts be of kinder, gentler nature. Who knows, if I practice enough, I might even be to think loving thoughts about myself someday.