Recently I went to a talk with my one-year-old daughter. We stood in the back where she could walk around and explore her surroundings. We are far past the stage where she will quietly sit on my lap.
At one point, my daughter jubilantly greeted a woman sitting in the far back part of the room where we were. My daughter smiled at her gleefully and reached her hand out to show her the pretzel stick she had been gnawing on. The first time the woman returned her good will and gave her a big smile. Then my daughter kept doing it several more times. Not surprisingly the woman didn’t respond—since she came to hear the lecture, not banter with a one-year-old, however adorable she may be.
This experience led me to reminisce about all those times I had been in a similar position to my daughter, sharing myself with people—especially those I dated—thinking that they would return my enthusiasm, that they were on the same page as me, that they CARED about me. Oh, how wrong I was.
And I really wish I had learned before I started dating—and before I began working in the professional world for that matter—that people do NOT care about me, are not emotionally invested in me. The love that our parents give us, that our relatives and close friends relay to us, is deep and nurturing. But the outside world—those who hardly know us, do not share this deep interest and investment in our well-being.
Somewhere along the way, I missed learning that lesson. And time and again I was shocked and dismayed when people didn’t treat me well when I offered them my heart and soul.
I don’t want to teach my daughter to be cynical, rather self-protective. To realize that there are those who love us with all their hearts—our inner circle, our family, our friends—but there are also those who hardly know us and can’t even begin to appreciate us deeply—and for those people we must be careful not to overshare or overly invest emotionally.
Recognize your beauty, your depth, your worth—and share it only with those who first prove themselves worthy.