Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stretching Myself

When I was young I would stand against the wall at parties and watch the other kids laugh and play.  One evening after my friend Krystal’s 6th birthday party my mother told me that the other mom’s had commented to her about me seeming so quiet.  My mom informed me if I wasn’t careful I might actually even came across as though I thought I was better than everyone else.  I was dumb-founded, how could anyone think that?  I was just shy! Well, I certainly didn’t want people to think I was stuck-up so I decided to acknowledge my fear and change.

From then on when I went to parties I made sure I engaged other people and if someone was alone I went over and talked to them.

Over the next 30 plus years I have tried my best to continue to do just that –to stretch myself by forcing myself to leave that wall, get out of the house, and go live life.
Many people live quiet ordinary lives because they fear doing things by themselves. 
I know people who believe going to a movie alone is weird; when I lived in Bakersfield I remember one movie cashier actually saying “just one” in that “are you serious” voice when I asked to buy a ticket.  Of course sarcastic me turned around looked behind me turned back and said “yes just one”.

There is going to a restaurant by yourself; to hear my friends talk you would think this is only for the eccentric.  The first time I went to a restaurant by myself I was 16 years old.  I remember going to a little hamburger place called Chubby’s.  Now this place is only slightly above fast-food but it was still a little scary for me.  I sat down and started browsing the menu.  What I found uncomfortable wasn’t the fact I was by myself though. It was the fact many patrons were watching me.  I mean literally just staring at me.  Now I like to make people laugh but being the source of their sympathy I didn’t like at all.  However I didn’t let it stop me; though I did bring interesting books with me from then on to bury myself in.

If by now, your friends don’t already think you are crazy try telling them you are going on vacation by yourself.  Not a vacation to San Diego to see Shamoo (which after watching the movie Blackfish would make me sad anyway) however; a vacation to Egypt or Thailand. When you come home and show them pictures of you riding an elephant or a Thai sunset, then they too will wish they had gone with you. 

However, that picture of you drinking the snake whiskey in Laos, maybe don't share that one just yet.

As you can see, my mother’s counsel about how people can perceive shyness, lead me to a life of stretching myself and not letting fear hold me back. And to think all she wanted me to do - was play with the other 6 year olds. 

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