By nature I am not a brave person. Put me in a room with unfamiliar people and I cannot speak. I want to join in, but can’t find the strength to open my mouth and risk not fitting in.
On top of that I don’t embrace change and am incredibly happy living my life as is.
Yet despite how I am, when I think back over the years, a number of events arise in which I had to fight against my nature and step outside my box.
As a young child I preferred my own company, so going to school for the first time was a frightening experience. Because I was socially awkward my parents found the money to put me in private Kindergarten. I learned a lot of things that set me on the right path academically, but I did interact with others. I spent playground time in the sand box, constructing my imaginary worlds.
Age did not improve my ability to meet new friend, but I did learn how to function within the system. And I did it on my own. No teacher, no school counselor, no administrator helped me negotiate the ins and outs of school. I roamed the playground lost in my own world, circling around and around, spinning stories both fantastical and what would now be called magical realism as they had nothing to do with what was feasible. I knew I was weird, and when you’re weird, you don’t have friends.
I had the grades and a massive scholarship so I was able to go to college, but this required a tremendous amount of bravery as this would be a new experience in a foreign environment. I was terrified. The first months were painful as even my roommate ignored me. But as time passed thanks to people that spoke to me first, I made a few friends.
Finding a job scared me, because as before, it meant entering unfamiliar places, approaching unfamiliar and often cold people, and facing repeated rejection. Once I did get hired, there was the problem of new expectations and jobs that I knew nothing about, which meant asking for help. I asked only when tears filled my eyes, but each time I was successful, my confidence grew.
I would like to think that age has increased confidence, but it hasn’t. What it has given me is the understanding of myself and has given me the ability to move into new situations despite the terror that such things create.
I am blessed with a husband who encourages me to continually step outside my box and go out into the world. Because of him I travel, write, and sing. Because of him I join clubs, go to luncheons and meet up with friends.
Sometimes I wonder how different I might have been if there had been someone like him in my life from the first time I ever left the house as a child. Because of my husband I am learning to be brave.
And because of people I’ve met through conferences, book clubs and the senior center, I prefer the company of others. I am no longer isolated in my head.
That’s a wonderful way to live!