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I am dating a confident, professional, good looking man my age. He loves me and I love him. But I feel insecure because his friends, like him, are all really bright and successful. I feel scared I am not good enough for him. When we walk into a social gathering (masked) he is friendly, confident, secure. I get nervous in social gatherings, or at least I do with his friends.
Struggling in California
My darlin’ Struggling,
I sooo feel ya. To some extent your problem is shared by, oh, I dunno, every single person in America. I think in one or more situations, everybody feels insecure. It’s almost like if you didn’t feel insecure at times you’d be a sociopath or something, though I’m sure even they have their issues. (“Is this the right way to strangle this kitten?”) Seriously, all of us know what it feels like to think you’re not smart enough, cool enough, pretty enough, good enough, sophisticated enough, enough enough. What all of us need to remember is that what we’re experiencing in these situations is an internal opinion not external stimuli. What we think, feel and how we react in any situation is of our own making – and that’s good news.
OK, my insecurity is all in my head, blah blah blah. I still feel like a terrified toothless hillbilly who just shit herself while Amal Clooney, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Noel Coward discuss astrophysics, occasionally looking around to see where the smell’s coming from. First, remember nearly everyone has these issues. Amal thinks Noel thinks she’s fat. Or Noel thinks Neil thinks he’s dumb. Or more likely, nobody’s thinking anything. They’re just talking about stuff. That stuff can be neuroscience, smoothies, or why the f**k do couples “Love it” when they really should “List It.” Here’s the first thing to remember: You don’t have to be an expert. No one wants to talk to experts. They want people to hear them talk about their expertise. You can fit in and be really popular by just asking questions. You are likely very smart, but it doesn’t matter. Being curious is more important than “being smart.” You think all these people are bright and successful, that’s great! Maybe they’re interesting too. You’re bound to hear interesting stuff. (That’s way better than hearing a lot of boring stuff.) Be a good listener. Ask a question when you have one. People will love you. People love curious people, and people really love good listeners. (They don’t want to hear what you think, they want to hear what they think.)
OK, that takes care of a strategy you can use in social gatherings when you feel nervous. But you really don’t need a strategy because you are not that toothless hillbilly. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) You are a woman with smarts, experiences, perspectives and know-how. You have a lot to share and a lot to offer. Anyway, it’s not our abilities and jobs that define us. We are defined by our choices, the ones we’ve made and the ones we are making. You and your choices are interesting and inviting because they helped make this wonderful man fall in love with you. You love him, so trust him. Trust that this “confident, professional, good-looking man” knows what he likes and knows what he’s doing. Trust that he knows you. The feeling you get, that we all get, that you’re not good enough is coming from a voice in your head, a stupid voice that doesn’t know you or love you the way he does.
You’d be good enough for him and anyone, even if you were a toothless hillbilly who shit herself, because you are a woman who knows her shit. And in all this world there is nothing cooler, better or more valuable than an experienced, wise woman who knows her shit.
If you’re ever in New York, let’s hang. I promise to let you get a word in edge-wise. ☺
Email your questions to Dixie at email@example.com. We may feature your question and Dixie’s advice on jumbleandflow.com. You can choose to remain anonymous or provide your name — totally up to you.
Dixie Laite has been a second-grade teacher and mechanical bull operator, and for the past 25 years she’s worked for a variety of TV networks as a writer, editorial director, trainer, advice columnist, even an on-air personality. But primarily she’s trotted around New York City in one cowboy shirt or another, lurking around flea markets, gyms, and anywhere they’ll hand her French toast. Currently she lounges around her apartment with one husband, one dog, five parrots, and roughly 2,000 pairs of shoes. Dixie is the main lady behind Age Against the Machine, a column about empowering women over 50. Stay tuned to jumbleandflow.com for more.
Follow Dixie on Instagram @dixielaite
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