I often like to think that I’m so emotionally mature that I don’t care about image at all. I don’t need expensive clothing, a luxury car, or high tech gadgets; and I don’t really care when people notice that I don’t have these things. It doesn’t matter to me. Until it did.
It was a Saturday morning and my wife was making breakfast when she noticed that we were running low on milk. I said I would get it from the supermarket which was only two blocks away. She asked me to bring our 15 month old son along with me, as he’s starting to climb on furniture and she wouldn’t be able to supervise him. My 4 year old didn’t want to come. He was too busy watching his cartoons.
On my way back from the supermarket, I stopped by my minivan to pick up a box of diapers I had bought the previous day. As I turned around, I saw a familiar face. It was a girl that I kind of went out with back in college. More accurately, I guess we hung out and then I was banished to the dreaded “friend zone” while she would go out with other guys. Anyway, long story short, back then I remember imagining myself being this successful guy with a fancy sports car and her regretting banishing me to the friend zone. Um, yea…I was kinda shallow and petty back in my college years. Sometimes, I still might be =) In defense of my pettiness and for some perspective, I want to disclose that I was a bit of a dork back in my college days…I still am…so that might be an explanation as to my pettiness!
In any case, I bump into her and she was with her husband. They were dressed up and probably going out to brunch. My hair was disheveled. I hadn’t shaved yet that day. I was wearing sweat pants, holding a box of Huggies diapers, and pushing a stroller, standing next to my minivan. We exchanged pleasantries and said how time has flown and that it was such a small world that we would bump into each other there.
After we parted ways and I was on my way back home, I was seething. Why couldn’t I have been driving a luxury SUV or something! Argh! Maybe I should have thrown on a nicer pair of jeans and combed my hair, before I left my house! I tried to remind myself why I don’t have a fancy car or expensive jeans. I have bigger goals: I want to be FI! But it’s not like I can show off by wearing a shirt that says “I’m on the Path to FIRE!” Did I mention that I can be shallow sometimes?
When I got home, I opened the door and my 4 year old jumped into my arms. “Where are we going today, papa?!” My 15 month old, still strapped in his stroller, stretches his arms out asking to be picked up too. My wife brings out breakfast. She made oatmeal and we’re also having Mickey Mouse shaped waffles.
I started to feel embarrassed. I was ashamed of myself for feeling like it mattered what someone I barely even knew thought about me. What really mattered were those people in that room with me at that moment. I have a loving and caring wife. I have two wonderful kids who adore me. Why did I waste my time in mental anguish over what someone else may or may not have thought about me.
Do you have any moments of weakness when you care too much as to what others may think of you?