Yesterday I came home from a meeting to find that everyone on the planet had emailed me during the hour and a half that I was away from my desk. During the frantic responding to the emails, I came across one that was too good to be read in that chaotic moment. You know those emails. You see the sender, you see the subject, you may even see the first sentence or two, and you immediately know that you should wait to read the entire contents until you can savor the moment.
After firing off a few explanations in response to client questions, the phone rang. It was my husband calling to find out how my meeting had gone, but instead of responding I said, “Wait, there is an email I need to read and I want to read it with you.”
He listened while I read through it, jumping up and down in my chair and curling my toes. And then he responded with, “That’s great…” followed by a list of concerns, cons with few pros, careful analysis.
To be fair, I am the keeper of the emotions in our family. My husband, an analyst by nature and by trade. I take his gift for granted at key times in our marriage, allowing my brain to drift to more interesting topics such as what flowers I’d like to plant this spring or what ride I’m going to run to first during our next Disney trip while he takes in important details regarding our finances, home mortgage, insurance.
But in the moments when what I really wish for is someone to mirror my emotions back to me and share my joy? Well, I’m left with someone who unintentionally yucks my yum.
I felt a bit down the rest of the afternoon, responded to the email with little enthusiasm.
This morning I woke up refreshed – Friday! – and headed to the shower with a guest post idea in my head. As I enjoyed the steaming hot water, the post wrote itself in my mind, and I quickly darted out of the bathroom and to my desk. Ten minutes later, it was done. Written and revised. I read it to my telecommuting husband who laughed out loud at just the right moments and kissed the top of my head on his way to begin work. Success! Now to wait on the recipient of the guest post to wake up and check email.
Again, I bounced around my office with excitement. I had enjoyed everything about writing this piece from its conception to its completion. I was pleased with myself, proud.
But when the recipient appeared on social media a couple hours later, I was met with an overtired, overworked, not terribly interested in reading what I had to say at this moment friend. Sad, I walked away from the computer.
The need for outside approval is nothing new and not unique to me. Those of us who blog are perhaps among the most afflicted with this disease, able to see on the screen before us how many people have visited our site, how long they have stayed, if they’ve returned. We’ve all opened our hearts onto a page only to have that same heart ripped out by these three painful words: “No Comments Yet.” We are an instant gratification society, over-sharers who receive immediate feedback to our every thought.
Two days. Two fantastic moments filled with positive feelings. Two let-downs because I (to be clear…ME) chose to make the reactions of others more important than my own, to give more importance to how they appeared to feel about my work than how I felt.
I know there’s no easy fix for this, and I’ll likely spend my entire life working on this glitch in my internal code. I also know I’ve made incredible progress and erected some great emotional boundaries, with more being built as I write this. In the meantime, I’m going to bask in the glow of a wonderful week and vow to work harder to protect my own yum.
I am forever indebted to my awesome friend Jodifur for giving me the phrase that inspired the title of this post.