The two words my father probably says most are “I’m sorry.” Now, my father is someone who deserves respect; he doesn’t really fit as someone who you would except to apologize so often. He has spent thirty-two years as a respected lawyer, is a great father and a loving husband. Now he practices cello frequently, studies Japanese, and occasionally writes. He has visited several European countries, and, if you give him enough time, speaks French. So what does he have to apologize for? Nothing, but he wants people to be happy. In their being happy, he also seeks confirmation that he has contributed to that contentment. He loves people to approve, to say he’s making a good decision, and to give reassurance, so he says sorry to please them. To receive approval.
That’s my theory anyway.
I attribute my own desire to make people happy to him, which is a good desire to have. Especially if I don’t say sorry too much. This last weekend my I put a few friends who don’t know each other too well together. The thing they talk about? It’s my magic way of getting along with and relating to people. Kind souls will say this is because I care, but I would say it is because I have a need to be liked, much akin to my father’s desire.
This works great in certain circumstances. I work hard to provide people with positive feedback in tango when teaching. I keep in mind that dancing with someone in tango is similar to taking their ego for a walk in a bag full of nails. You do not want to mess that up. In tango though, especially when I’m hosting, I worry endlessly. I don’t consider myself the most desired dancer in the room, but I like to think I’m decent at dancing, and even beyond that, I would hate for people to think I am neglecting them. So, in deciding who to dance with at a milonga, I try to keep a list going in my head of whom I have danced with most recently and who I should dance with next. I also am on the lookout for new dancers who I haven’t danced with and I want to know, in addition to the people I’d like to add to my list of regulars. It’s enough to drive me mad, and I do it because of the conversations I have with people after tango. It’s terrible to hear when someone feels they didn’t get enough dances so they feel fat, so they feel like they suck at dancing, like they aren’t worthwhile as a person. If I can fix that by dancing with them (again, not saying I’m great, just saying that I’m dancing with them), then I want to do it!
Next side, writing. I try to take that extra step to see where someone is coming from in a story. Ego issues feel similar to tango, though some people have thicker skin from receiving constant criticism in the writing world. And, while getting sloshed at tango is looked down upon, saying “so-and-so is a writer and drinks” is using two extra words not necessary to the description. What I’m doing a terrible job of joking about is that writers drink enough to forget any criticism they don’t want to hear. That, or they love their work enough to ignore anything you say about it, for better or for worse.
These traits serve me fairly well as a tango dancer and as an editor. I care about how others feel, but I also go a bit crazy at time. I love people. I think everyone has a point of fascination that can be examined, magnified, and looked at to no end. This can lead to me allowing people to monopolize my time, and for me to worry constantly how people feel about miniscule actions of mine (including in dance). At its worst, I assume that when someone starts a sentence they’ll point out a place where I have been inconsiderate, a place I can improve, and a place that I hurt them. It’s stressful, and I start to wear a little thin after a while until I get my ass in gear and remember who I should always take care of. Me.
Me. I’m the important person in my life, and until I get married or have kids, I should probably put myself first insofar as it doesn’t do serious harm to other people.
As said earlier, my friends will comment that I am nearly angelic in my ability to deal with eccentric people. I often find this funny since most of those I keep close to me and love are the kind of folks who rub people the wrong way. I love this. It makes me think of the Isle of Misfit Toys, and I’m glad to have a place that I feel like I belong, and I’m so happy and grateful for the friends I have, even if I drive myself a little nutty sometimes.
Sometimes being a people pleaser means I say yes to things I might say no to, in a good way. I’m naturally an introvert, but wanting to help make people happy often gets me out the door, not to mention knowing that the best way for me to make improvements in my own life and meet goals is to not stay holed up in my room watching The West Wing (but seriously, that show is great).
With that, I’d like to remind anyone reading to stop for a moment and take care of themselves. To treat themselves, make dinner for themselves, to dance with themselves, and in general be happy.