If It Were Me | May 2016

By Elizabeth Oates

Have Questions?

Hello, friends, and welcome back to the Wacoan’s monthly advice column. As a wife and mother of four, I am excited to read to your questions and share my thoughts on whatever trials you might be facing relating to marriage, family, parenting or general women’s issues. What qualifies me to dish out my opinion? Good question! I earned a master’s in marriage and family studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, although I admit this means nothing in the real world. Ha! I have studied harder in the school of life than I ever did in seminary.

Over the past eight years I have mentored countless young women and I have heard it all — nothing shocks me. Do you a have question you need answered? Go ahead and send it in. That’s what I would do … if it were me.

Dear Elizabeth,

I am a single woman in my late 50s. A dear friend of mine passed away last year after a two-year battle with cancer. The one-year anniversary of her death is coming up, and I’d like to do something to remember her, but I’m not sure what. I don’t want to do something too lavish (my friend wouldn’t have wanted a lot of attention), but I do want to honor her memory in some way. Do you have any ideas? — M.J.

Dear M.J.,

I am so sorry for your loss. Too often, cancer is a thief that steals our loved ones before we are ready to let them go. I love that you want to honor your friend and celebrate her life. Here are a few ideas my family and friends have used to remember someone:

  • Plant a tree in your friend’s honor and visit it on the anniversary of her death and/or on her birthday. One year our children even decorated the tree with handmade ornaments.
  • Place a bench in one of her favorite spots. This could be in a park (you would need city approval) or in your backyard. You could also place a bench at her graveside, if it is a place you find comfort in visiting.
  • On the anniversary of her death, gather her closest friends and share memories about her. You could also all eat lunch at her favorite restaurant. Or write down a memory about her, tie it to a balloon and release the balloons into the air. Or do something she would have enjoyed doing (walking in a park, taking a yoga class, going to a museum, baking a cake).

Dear Elizabeth,

I recently read your blog post “Is There Really Room at the Table?” and it hit home with me. I struggle with feelings of insecurity, rejection and fear, which hold me back from trying new things. I have wanted to start a home-based business and open an Etsy shop for a long time, but I keep thinking, “Aren’t there enough Etsy shops? Who am I to try this?” How do I overcome my insecurities and pursue my dream? — Kelly

Dear Kelly,

I can definitely relate to feeling like everyone is doing exactly what you want to do, and they are doing it a million times better. I am so proud of you for finding your talent and knowing what direction you want to take it. Now you need to courage to do it. Here are some suggestions:

  • Look at the Etsy shops selling similar products to yours. How many months or years have the shops been open? Are their sales high? Low? This will give you a good indication of what to expect. Also figure out ways to differentiate yourself from your competition, either by your products or in some other way.
  • Running an Etsy business is more than just offering a great product. Here are a few books I have read and highly recommend to people when starting a business, making a career change and pursuing social media marketing: “Quitter” by Jon Acuff, “Start” by Jon Acuff and “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” by Gary Vaynerchuk.

However, I wonder about the root issue causing your feelings of insecurity. If I can throw out one more book recommendation, I suggest “So Long, Insecurity” by Beth Moore. I hope this journey is more than a business venture for you but also a path of discovering you are a strong, creative, talented woman capable of more than you ever dreamed.

Dear Elizabeth,

I am very shy, and while I was growing up, people thought I was a snob. I was an only child, so that didn’t help either as people often interpret a “lonely only” as spoiled and standoffish. I have done a lot of self-reflection, and I really don’t think I’m a snob. I am just uncomfortable in a lot of social situations. How do I interact with people in a way that helps them understand who I truly am? — Misunderstood in Midway

Dear Misunderstood in Midway,

As an extreme extrovert, it is difficult for me to understand people who don’t want to hang out with 20 best friends, attend social gatherings with endless small talk and constantly work in teams. Extroverts say, “Exhilarating!” Introverts say, “Exhausting.” OK, maybe you introverts have a point.

Extroverts often bulldoze over introverts, unaware of their emotional needs. We say, “The party’s just getting started. You don’t want to miss all the fun. I’ll be so sad if you go.” We extroverts can interrupt introverts, monopolize conversations and dominate relationships. Ever since I was a child, most of closest friends have been introverts. I guess you could say opposites attract. My friends have taught me so much about slowing down, being introspective and embracing stillness.

A great book you might want to read is “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. By gaining greater insight into your own wiring, you will know how to handle social situations and relationships.

Our culture extols extroverts. However, with books like “Quiet,” the tide is shifting. Being an introvert is no longer a liability — it is a quality to be celebrated and appreciated. But first you have to celebrate it and appreciate it within yourself.

Dear Elizabeth,

My husband wants to go on a weeklong hiking and camping adventure with his college buddies in Colorado this summer. I don’t particularly like these friends, and I am not a fan of them going so far away. What should I do? — S.E.

Dear S.E.,

I am assuming you don’t like your husband’s college buddies because of all the stunts they pulled when they were 20 and stupid and lived the nocturnal lifestyle except when they occasionally attended classes (which they probably slept through). I think you are forgetting that your husband was a willing participant in these shenanigans. You seem to have tagged him as the innocent bystander, the golden boy who was forced into hijinks against his will and now only keeps in touch with these losers because he has Stockholm syndrome. Face it, your darling husband was and is one of them. They shared a bond that will never be broken. Even if your husband has matured slightly more than his frat house friends, they are entitled to keep in touch.

As for the campout, let’s be grateful they don’t want to go to Vegas. How much trouble can they get into when hiking for eight hours a day and sleeping under the stars? No technology, no gambling and who wants to hike with a hangover? In my opinion, this is the safest form of male bonding. You need to rethink why you don’t want your husband to go on this trip.

  • Are you afraid he will return to his college ways?
  • Are you worried his friends will drag him down into an abyss of poor choices?
  • Is the trip too expensive?
  • Do you think it’s dangerous?
  • Do you not want to stay home alone for a week?

Think through the specific worries you have and then talk them through with your husband. Chances are you can find a solution.