One of my kids has a professional mentor I had the opportunity to meet. My child was excited and I was a little nervous. I was at a book signing and I had my smiling author face on, partly because it's the polite thing to do and partly because I have every reason to smile when I am signing books. I met this person and talked to them for about fifteen minutes. I thought it went well. Turns out I was wrong. Not a little wrong, like when I think it's Tuesday and it's really Wednesday, but all out dead wrong. The mentor thought of me as a weak housewife who had nothing better to do than write a book. The mentor mentioned to my child that they were unsure if I was someone they could depend on. My child mentioned to me their dismay about the meeting and thought it was all crap. My first impression turned out to be disastrous.
My reaction? I laughed. A fifteen minute conversation hardly determines who I am, no matter who I might be meeting. Let's face it, if I had been in the grocery store frazzled and pressed for time I might have been considered mean spirited. Catch me outside looking at my front yard and you might not know that the inside of my house is completely torn apart, but you would definitely notice my rumpled, paint splattered clothes. Maybe you would think I didn't care about my appearance. maybe you'd think I was a crazy artist type. Catch me in the hardware store and maybe you'd think I was a complete idiot, because half the time I can't remember why I went there to begin with.
I tell my kids all the time, "You determine your worth." I say that because it's true. No one gets to tell me who and what I am. Only I get to know all of me and my motivation, well, me and God. My child feeling the unfairness of the judgement, was upset by the reaction of the person she respects professionally. I told her to let it go. It doesn't matter whether that person thinks I am a boob. In the end the mentor doesn't know me or my child's relationship to me. They don't know what goes on behind closed doors and late night phone conversations.
I thought it was funny that out of all the things that were said that day, the mentor took only the negative away from it. Such is life. I can't change the way they view me or what they think they know. I can go on being me and hope for their sake they are more careful about being judge, jury and executioner next time they meet someone. Judging too quick no matter what the situation is usually hazardous.
I could, I suppose, ponder the implications of what I may have done to create such an impression. I could spend my days evaluating my posture, tone and language. I could pick apart every move I made that day, in order to possibly better my next first impression. Or I could forget it and keep trying to be the best me I can, knowing that perfect is not optional. I am going for the latter choice. I am not sweating this. I feel bad for my child and how disappointed they are, but in retrospect I wouldn't change a thing. That day was a good day for me. I harbor no resentment to the person who judged me rather harshly in a short time, but rather feel the connection only through my child. What they think of me is unimportant. What I want is for them to see, really see my child for all the brilliance and talent they have. That does seem to be the case, so as far as I am concerned everything is a success.
Obviously, I haven't forgotten it, yet, but I am sure I will the next time I am standing in the hardware store frantically trying to remember why I am there.