Sunday, August 14, 2005

You never know, it could be great. Take a chance cuz you might grow

What you waiting for!?
-Gwen Stefani

I used to be shy. Painfully shy. Yeah. I'll wait a moment for this news to sink in.

Part of that changed back when I was in high school. At the age of 15, I became ill and was taken to the emergency room. The ensuing examination involved 11, yes - eleven, I counted, ER personnel and every body orifice. When prepping me for surgery, I was lying naked on a table while 2 strangers shaved me from my neck ALL THE WAY DOWN AND AROUND to my back. You know what I mean. Oh and did I mention I was on my period too? After something like that you tend to lose a few inhibitions.

Surprisingly, I was still shy. To some extent. People could look at me. I just didn't want them to hear me. Any and all public speaking mortified me. That part changed in college.

At the start of one of my communications courses, each person had to quietly stand for a few minutes in front of the class while the other students recorded their observations and opinions. It was a study on first impressions. Shortly after, we were each secretly assigned another student to covertly observe for the remainder of the semester. At that time we were to write a letter to our designated person telling them what we learned about them.

The student who observed me bluntly told me that at first she thought I was a stuck-up bitch. (Those of you who do know me - don't laugh because you know she was right). My "preppy" appearance and incredibly quiet demeanor (DO NOT FRIGGIN' LAUGH) gave the perception that I was a snob. It was not until she got to know me that she realized I was just shy.

First impressions are often misleading. (Quit laughing) (please.)

No wonder it was hard for me to make new friends. And as I appeared to be unapproachable, I would have to learn to make the first move. For a shy person this would be a massive undertaking. But I wanted to really fit in. I was truly motivated to change.

So I began to take chances. Small ones at first. I spoke aloud in class. I asked questions and volunteered answers. I'd make small talk with the people in line with me. I'd give compliments to strangers. I gave speeches and presentations. I made new friends.

It was then that I began to come into my own. I learned that the earth will not open up and swallow me whole if I raise my hand and ask a stupid question (no matter how much I might wish it would). And sometimes if you ask the right thing at the right time in the right way, the answer might just be in your favor.

I learned that the sun will still rise in the morning if I mispronounce a word or three or thirty. And it's ok to be wrong and make mistakes (and when I do make one, as I'm sure I will one day, I'll be the first to admit it, too).

I learned that opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. If someone disagrees with me, the world won't stop revolving and we can still be friends by agreeing to disagree, unless of course I'm right and you ARE an asshole.

Sure, I still want to fit in. I still want everyone to like me. I also want the perfect job, the perfect life, the perfect dream. I want to be a celebrity/rock star/olympic champion, to win the lottery, and for everyone to love me, adore me and send me gifts. But I know that's not going to happen. At least not any time soon.

I'm practical. I realize that I'm not going to get along with everyone I meet. Not every boss is the right one. Not every woman wants to be my best friend. Not every man finds me irresistably attractive only to fall in love with me and worship at my feet.

However, I won't find out for sure unless I give others the opportunity to see me, talk with me, get to know me.

I have to take those chances.

Naturally i'm worried if i do it alone
Who really cares cuz it's your life
You never know, it could be great
Take a chance cuz you might grow
Oh... oh ohhh

What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting for!?

Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.
- André Dubus


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