Look at Me?

“ Don’t take yourself to those who do not want you.”

That was a phrase from my youth that came bounding out of the cobwebs yesterday and smacked me right between the eyes. Like all good one-liners, there is a story behind it.

When I was a freshman in college, I signed up for a philosophy class. It was an upper level class in which I had no business enrolling- but there I was.  When I walked into class the first day, there were lots of seats to choose from. I immediately spied an older woman with luminous gray hair and funky clothing. She looked worldly, and I was sure I smelled wisdom. I promptly went and sat right next to her. She looked up briefly and went back to the book she was reading.

I found the class to be enthralling. Each week it left me feeling energized and even more inquisitive than usual. More than once I made a comment to, or asked a question of the intriguing woman next to me.  We were halfway through the semester and she had barely said a full sentence to me, but I still thought she smelled like wisdom. I am pretty sure however, that she thought I smelled like an annoying 18 year old kid.  She was polite but never warm and would not say three words if she could answer me in two.

One day, the teacher asked us to break into pairs and she and I coupled up for the assignment. Our task was to pretend we were in the last moments of our life, and to dole out to our partner, an insight, or a bit of advice that we believed to be the worthiest thing we had learned in our lifetime. I have absolutely no memory of what I may have said to her. (I shudder at the thought of what it may have been actually….) The phrase she said to me has been by my side ever since. It was just that one sentence:

 “Don’t take yourself to those who do not want you.”

Now, I will never know if this was really her best advice learned through a lifetime of experience, or if this was her way of letting me know to stay away from her for the remainder of the course. And really it does not matter. I got it. Her words resonated deep inside of me and that simple phrase is something that has helped to keep me in check for decades.

Yesterday I wrote about a sports figure that is very much in the news right now. I wrote about him not because he was a popular topic, but because I could see such a life lesson in the situation that involved him. My words managed to garner attention from sources that run counter to my usual stomping grounds of personal growth and spirituality.  All of a sudden, I found myself with the opportunity to expand my audience in a variety of directions. I am a neophyte in the social networking arena, so right now the rule of thumb is ‘ any attention is good attention.’ So it seemed that life had provided a small inroad to take onto the cyber highway if I wanted to give it a try. I considered my options for about a minute… about 30 seconds into that minute I could smell wisdom.  The words “Don’t take yourself to those who do not want you” may as well have come out of a bullhorn. Yes, there was opportunity for exposure- but why expose myself to those who are not looking for what I have? Those words from my past gave me permission to sit still and let the cyber highway rush right by. Yep, I’ll stay right here where I am.  It may take a while but I will find those who want what I have to give.

Think about the times in your life, when you have taken yourself to those who do not want you. Make a conscious choice right now and say never again!! Those who want you will find you. And don’t ever, ever sell yourself short. You don’t want to be looked at. You want to be seen.