Chapter 1. My Shy Terrified Misfit Self. Yeah, I know, might be hard to believe, but I’m kinda shy and often terrified. (no one is surprised by the misfit part). When I was a little girl, I was SO afraid of talking to other people. I remember being so upset the first time my dad made me give my order to the actual person at the counter at McDonalds instead of quietly whispering it to him to relay the order. My kindergarten school picture is a sad looking little girl wearing a red ribbon in her hair and tears in her eyes…..I had burst into tears because the photographer tried too hard to get me to smile and it was just too much for shy little ole me. And I’ve always just been so damn afraid: Afraid of snakes, afraid of heights, afraid of water, afraid of looking stupid, afraid of more snakes, afraid to go anywhere or do anything alone, afraid to try anything with other people watching, afraid to fail, afraid to eat in front of people (seriously, potlucks were hell on earth), afraid to be alone, afraid to be in a crowd, afraid to be seen, afraid to not be seen, afraid, afraid, afraid. I’ve always felt I didn’t belong, was a total misfit in any situation, and trying to relate to others has been a constant struggle. Sometimes I’m too quiet, sometimes I’m WAY too loud, sometimes I talk too much, sometimes I become a wallflower, sometimes I act a fool to try to convince everyone that I’m this uber confident socialite, sometimes I laugh when everyone else is mad, sometimes I cry when everyone else is just fine, sometimes I just stay home because I’m too scared to go out and face the world. And the truth is, for a culture who supposedly claims to be all individualistic, we all really work hard to be just like everyone else. Yet despite this…this need to conform, to fit in, we all still want to be seen. Really seen.
How Does This Make Me Awesome? Because I can see it. I can spot it others. I have the sight. This is my third eye. I know the signs. I can see the terror in their eyes, the discomfort in their body language, the desire to fit in and the despair at not knowing how. And above all, I see your fear of being insignificant. And if I can get past my own, sometimes crippling , fear of the same thing, I can reach out. I still get terrified having to walk into a room by myself and have to strike up conversation with people, but I do it. Whenever I venture out on a solo trip somewhere, I am almost sick with fear and anxiety, but I refuse to stay home (and anyone who pays attention, has noticed that I refuse to stay home A LOT). Frankly, I count on the fact that there are others out there just as afraid as me and I find them…I find them quickly, and I try to see them. Whether I just smile or strike up a conversation, or tell them I love their necklace, or ask if I can sit and eat fancy finger foods at their table at those horrifying “mingling events,” I seek them out. I will do anything I can to make them feel important. To know they are significant. And it helps. Maybe it helps them, I really hope it does, but I KNOW, it helps me. I don’t feel so alone when I can make a connection. I don’t feel so afraid when I know I’m not the only one. And I don’t feel so self conscious when I am focusing on seeing someone else.
(this is a selfie of me feeling EXTREMELY SELF CONSCIOUS)
And frankly, if this seeing others is the small way I can change the world for the better, then I would gladly accept this as my superpower. I seriously dig capes anyway.