Several months ago I put my car up for sale on Craigslist. I’m on the cautious side when it comes to posting my contact information online, so when I created the listing I decided not to include my name, phone number, or personal email address. Craigslist has a “reply” button which forwards messages to the seller’s personal email account. That would work just fine for me.
Apparently not for my first potential customer. I received an angry email accusing me of leaving out my personal contact information from the ad itself because I was just trying to scam people, that I was not actually planning on selling the car, and that I would not even do him the courtesy of replying to his inquiry. He must have been burned by Craigslist scammers in the past.
And he was right—I did not reply. Part of me wanted to just so I could defend myself, prove my legitimacy, and prove him wrong. But I did not want to have to interact with such an angry person in-person in order to sell my car, so I would only have been replying to justify myself, not to make a sale. And that just didn’t seem worth it. After all, I didn’t want this person to end up with my real email address, especially now.
What’s sad is that what made me avoid replying to him was his expectation, accusation, and anger that I would not reply to him. He brought on himself what he feared the most. And it made me think about how I do the same thing.
I’m deeply afraid of rejection. I don’t think people would like me if they really knew what I was like, and people not liking me feels like rejection. So I hide what I really think and what I really value, and I go with other people’s flow. Eventually the real me gets so tired of faking it that I either withdraw, blow up, or in somewhat better mental health try to explain my needs for an adjustment to the relationship. And in the likely case that the relationship doesn’t survive any of those, then the real me, the one who finally put herself out there, feels rejected, the thing I feared the most from the beginning.
What I’m trying to do with new people I meet is to show who I really am, even if I’m afraid to. It would be much less painful if they decided they didn’t like me on day 1 instead of on day 100. And there’s bound to be a few people in my city who will actually like the real me if I give them the chance to get to know her. So, thank you, angry Craigslist guy. If anything, you gave me some perspective and a little more motivation to work on nipping my own self-fulfilling prophesy in the bud. I wish you luck working on yours.
image by Steve Johnson from Pexels