You've Got The Car. You've Got The Girl.
This year, I am officially done explaining myself.
Well, from here on out. Truth is, I hadn't really thought much about how often I do it, until a neighbor complimented me recently, with an innocent: "Your yard looks great."
And indeed it does. The fence, stacked in our backyard since we bought the house over two years ago, has finally been installed. We replaced our crumbling asphalt driveway with brand-new tinted concrete. And our backyard was not only leveled, but outfitted with lush, green, inviting sod.
A simple thank you would have sufficed. Or an invitation to come over in the spring for a drink.
Instead, I went into my typical over-explaining mode. "Thanks. We took out a loan to pay for everything. We're not that handy."
Really? Who cares?
The problem is that I do this all the time. Nice designer Kate Spade planner! Oh, I bought it on sale. Something like 80 percent off. What a fantastic convertible! Yeah, we got quite a deal because Pontiac was going out of business. They were practically giving this thing away.
What I've come to realize is my over-explaining is not really over-explaining at all. It's more of an apology to say I'm sorry for my experiences, my possessions and really, for who I am.
Cue the ah-ha moment music.
I actually think this is a fairly recent development, a protective mechanism cultivated to insulate myself from the haters out there, who have a hard time accepting their own lives as a journey that they are responsible for, instead of constantly comparing their existence to everyone else's. Not a recipe for success.
To compensate, I've opted for blanket apologizing, no matter what the situation, so that no one feels bad about their own experiences. Or, as my friend Shelly so brilliantly refers to it, I've been actively 'dimming my light'.
But the truth is, I am a hard working, chance taking member of society, who consciously lives my life to the fullest. And in these, 'see, I'm really just like you', moments of apology, not only am I taking away the opportunity to accept a genuine, pure of heart compliment, because they do exist, but I'm also compromising the celebration of whatever the event, as well as my worthiness to receive it.
So I'm done.
Naturally, my husband Andre got this message a long time ago. He is older, and, sigh, yes, sometimes wiser. We were honeymooning in South Beach, and had just pulled up to our splurge hotel in a convertible. Getting out of the car, a panhandler approached asking for money. At the time, Andre's standard line for this situation was, "I'm all set." And I'd known for years that eventually, his response of choice was going to get him into trouble. This time, it did.
"You're all set?!" said the panhandler, with an unnerving combination of venom and disgust. "Yeah, you're all set. You've got the car. You've got the girl."
It was on the tip of my tongue to tell this guy that he had it all wrong. That the car was a rental. That we were hauling plastic bags of groceries into this classy hotel, because our budget couldn't support eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out. And while he saw two, relatively well dressed people, our clothes were, as always, purchased from the clearance rack, because you've got to be an idiot to pay full price.
But my gut told me to be quiet.
Andre came away with a major life lesson from this encounter--beyond altering the way he responds to requests for change. He learned that life is all about perception. And no matter what you say, you're not going to change someone's idea of you. No matter how far it deviates from reality.
Sometimes, I'm a little slow on the uptake. But this lesson, I've finally got.