“She looks so good.” I thought. Since the last time I had seen her, she had to have lost at least 30 lbs, and it was definitely showing. I had been following her weight loss journey from a distance, seeing posts and updates through her various social media accounts that we mutually followed each other on. She was one of those girls that knew me and I knew her, and we had even talked and made jokes. During my freshman year of high school we were paired together for a dance routine, and I had become her personal wardrobe helper when she became the lead in the school musical. We were friends, but not extremely close. We had never talked outside of school, and I hadn’t even seen her in two years.
Yet somehow we had both ended up at the same event. I was with my best friend, and she was with her family. “Wow, doesn’t she look good?” Aubrey leaned over and whispered to me. I nodded in agreement. At the end of the show we happened to pass each other on the way out. I returned her wave and smiled, but kept moving, as I usually do. There was nothing to be said, as far as I was concerned.
Then Aubrey stopped. She smiled at her and said, “I just wanted to say, you are looking so good! You look awesome!” And then we kept walking.
I looked back, and She was smiling. A lot bigger than when I had just waved.
Remembering how nice it felt to have people acknowledge my hard work when I had lost my own significant amount of weight, I wanted to punch myself a little for not saying something and complimenting her progress. Why didn’t I even say that it was nice to see her?
I’ve always been, and fear that I always will be, deathly shy. Even around my own family. I stutter and say “um” a lot, and do my best to stay away from conversation. Small talk is the bane of my existence. I’m like Mr. Darcy at the assembly, to be honest. Starting conversations has never been my strong suit, but I promise I’m semi-interesting and hard to stop when you get me going. I can talk, I just really prefer not to.
Even when clients I talk to tell me something that I honestly think is really interesting and great, I usually just find myself saying that – “Great.”
It’s a problem.
So I surround myself with people who are more eloquent, less shy, and can take the floor. People like Aubrey, who aren’t afraid to give compliments (I’m too scared they’ll come off as insults) and who always speak their mind. People who can carry conversation with a complete stranger and show genuine interest.
But Aubrey is gone for the time being. So when I ran into an old friend at the mall yesterday, I puffed up my courage and even asked her a few questions about how she was doing. I thank her for the compliment to my shoes. Then I got awkward, and said it was nice to see her again. Then I left. Very quickly. I’m afraid that it probably came off rude, but I didn’t mean it. I just don’t do well in social situations.
I hide myself in books, surround myself with people who can take control and speak my mind for me, and even find myself turning to the internet and a lonely little blog to express myself. I do feel comfortable around a lot of people, and I can even strike up conversations if I have back up around me. Leave me by myself – vulnerable and unsure – then we have a problem.
That’s just who I am though. And like Darcy, there is more to me. Layers and facts that you can’t see if you only get to know me on the most basic level. “I was scared of you” is the most common first impression I get. I’ve always thought of that as funny, since I’m really not scary. At least, I hope not.
Yes, I need to be able to do things on my own. I need to be an adult and be able to have small conversations without having to take deep breaths to slow my heart rate after. Yet, this is who I am. It’s something about me that I have improved, but that will always be a part of me. That shy girl who worries a little too much about what others will think of her.
So I’m glad that I have examples around me of people who aren’t afraid. Who give the compliments I’m thinking, and who love everyone without being afraid of what may happen to them. I’m so #blessed that these people would want to be around someone who can come off so callus and cold sometimes (but I really love you, though.). I can look at Aubrey’s compliments and inviting smiles and learn, and maybe someday I’ll smile without fear, too.
This makes me sound crazy, doesn’t it? Oh dear, there I’ve gone and done it again.