I get this feeling when I see someone I know in a store, when I'm out on a run, or in the school parking lot while I'm picking up the kids. It goes like this:
- I hope I'm remembering their name right. (I'm so bad at names it feels like a medical condition.)
- What will I say?
- Should I just avoid them?
- They don't want to see me.
If I do stop and talk with them, I'm left wondering, are they really happy to see me or desperately waiting for me to go away?
I'm not trained in psychology, but lack of authority never slowed me down, so I call the condition FOBU, the Fear Of Being Unwelcome. Its chief characteristic is a fear, often overwhelming, that people would rather not see the afflicted individual. FOBUs assume they are undesirable and unworthy of notice. FOBUs live primarily within their own heads and spend inordinate energy attempting to discern what others think of them. These largely negative assumptions reflect the FOBUs lack of faith in themselves. Paradoxically, FOBUs are often talented, creative, and seemingly confident people.
(See, that sounded like I'm trained in psychology, right? Straight out of the feaking DSM.)
I have spent time with four different FOBU folks this week. Each has not exactly shocked me with their confessions or demonstrations of FOBU, but I'm still surprised when anyone expresses this condition to me. It's like that Robert Burns poem: "Gin a FOBU meet a FOBU, comin thro' the rye" or something like that. Whatever it is, there is nothing quite like FOBU meeting FOBU. It leaves me wondering what the hell...?
There should be a point to all this, but I feel unqualified to say what it is. I'm just glad to have met these FOBUs and their FOBUness. None of them were unwelcome to me. Just the opposite. I'm so glad to have heard from them. It's as if I walked up to myself and was happy to see me comin thro' the rye.