Now as a grown young woman whose life path is ambiguous compared to her brother's, she is still thrown for a loop when asked "What's new?" or "What are you up to these days?" These seemingly harmless questions evoke a cold sweat and terror for her, and the otherwise confident and delightful person she is becomes flooded with self-rejection, unable to stand in support of herself.
The truth is she has a great vision, passion and plans that will take years to develop. She is doing a wonderful job of finding her way off the beaten track of the mainstream to create a new kind of school that will provide a wonderful education, caring community and magnificent opportunities for a largely marginalized segment of our population. But, that is tough to talk about enthusiastically in an elevator speech to people who measure success in terms of concrete recognizable achievements -- or worse yet -- don't even care.
When a situation that is this emotionally juicy comes up in your life, it is a wonderful opportunity to gain some life wisdom. In this particular case, there is much to be learned about dealing with life in a social context where everybody is having opinions about themselves and each other all the time.
Here are the tips I gave my client. Perhaps they will help you or someone you know as well.
To read Judith Johnson's tips on dealing with other people's opinions, click here.