I answered the phone at work today. The fellow on the other end said that he knew me. Seemed quite enthusiastic about talking to me, which sometimes is not the case when people actually know me. I suck at names, and did not recognize his, but he launched right into his spiel. He was setting up an environmental program for the general public and wanted to know if we wanted to do a presentation. "Sure," I said. He didn't seem prepared for a quick yes, but he was very happy. So I asked about what sort of programs they were looking for. Turned out that they were taking what they could get. I suggested that he sit down and write up a 'dream list' of what programs he would like to be presented. I told him that we were an agency trying to promote ourselves as an educational resource, and we'd be glad to see what we could do for him. He was a pretty happy guy. I gave him a couple more names of people who I thought would be interested in promoting their environmental initiatives, and he was asking for spellings and scribbling it all down. He said something that tripped a memory, and I said, "Wait. I know you. You're Rick's friend..." and we laughed. Anyhow, he said, "You know, I knew you'd be the one to get in touch with. You're so forward thinking and enthusiastic about everything. You're just a really fun person."
The one thing that most people cannot see about me is that I have some seriously low self esteem that I cover up with humor. I say what I think for the most part, and my directness annoys some, so I have my share of people who'd like to see me disappear. I've been writing my humor column for the paper long enough that I get fan mail, but those people don't know me. They just know that I'm funny, and that I'm a sap, and these things strike a resonating chord. I know that I am popular with my co-workers, but I have a tendency to shrug their compliments off with the thought that they are just being nice because they work with me. I'm a hard worker, too goal oriented sometimes. This makes me not as patient as I could be. I've got friends at church. They have to be nice. That's what real Christians should do. My husband thinks I'm beautiful. But hey, the man likes to eat, so it pays to compliment the cook. I've gotten pretty good at explaining away almost every compliment. I know what people see when they look at me, because I see my own faults very plainly. However, today was a surprise. This person had no reason to say a nice thing. And I found myself wondering, "I wonder if I am seeing myself differently than how the world sees me?"
Like I said, my school days are long gone, all but disappeared in the wispy memories of the first half of my life. But I'm learning the greatest lessons of my life in the second half of it, and nary a school house in sight.