Learning To Love Familiar Faces – The Value Of Letting Go Of Our Own Definitions

Something I’ve noticed changing in my life as the years pass with me facing my social anxieties head on, is that I truly love seeing familiar faces. Before I started putting myself out there circa 2010, if I saw a familiar face in the grocery store I would run in the other direction. Sometimes I would pretend I didn’t notice/recognize someone even if we made eye contact. It was like I was facing a danger in the wild and my instinct was the fly away. Every. Single. Time.

But now, I truly feel joy when I see a familiar face. I think that’s why it bothers me so much when I get a name wrong. Because I’m really happy to see this person in front of me, and calling them the wrong name does not really convey that joy successfully. It’s a weird shift that snuck up on me. Sometimes the face might belong to someone I haven’t talked to in person in a few years, so I quickly pull up Facebook to remember their name and then I hunt them down and say, “Hi!”

Did you get that? I will SEEK OUT someone who I haven’t even spoken to in years, take the time to make sure I have their name right, all just to say, “Hi!”

I mean, I would have hidden from my BFF 5 years ago if I wasn’t in “the mood” for socializing.

I’m still a total mess and I still humiliate myself during at least 2 out of every 10 social encounters, but I legitimately like seeing people I know now. Which is a very weird thing. EVEN IF I LOOK LIKE SHIT! I could be wearing my lawn-mowing clothes, smell like sweat, and have a shopping cart full of tampons and I’ll still be excited to see a familiar face at Target.

(Sidenote: I still don’t need tampons thanks to my ablation over a year ago. Hard to believe I haven’t talked about the misery of my reproductive system in over a year! YAY FOR BURNING MY UTERUS!)

And this change is what brings me back to something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. About how dangerous it is to repeatedly “define” ourselves. I held on to that “social anxiety” definition for a long time. As well as the “homebody” definition. “Yeah, I have severe social anxiety. I don’t do that kind of stuff. I’m a homebody.” But somewhere a long the way I started letting go of that as I started embracing growing my tribe. I still get so anxious at every encounter, and I still embarrass the shit out of myself on a daily basis, but I’ve learned that the Pros outweigh the Cons time and time again.

I often say, “I can’t give up sugar. I tried once. Didn’t even make it 24 hours. It was awful.” And all of that is true, but I wonder how much truth I’m adding to it because I KEEP SAYING IT. Maybe I should work on how I verbally define myself. “I’m a stress-eater. I binge eat when I get upset.” “I can’t give up sugar.” “I’m addicted to Diet Coke.” All of these things I just repeat as a way of making an excuse as to why I can’t change. But look at me! I’ve made so many positive changes in my life by letting go of certain definitions.

Does anyone here remember my failed attempts at becoming a runner back in 2006/2007? I tried to do my own training and kinda survived to a half-marathon level (but not really) and then totally screwed up trying for a marathon and declared – OUT LOUD – several time, “I just have to face it: I AM NOT A RUNNER.”

HA! I’m totally a runner.

I do the same with cycling. I’m constantly saying, “I hate cycling. It scares the shit out of me. I won’t ever like it, I’ll just learn to live with it.”

But how much of that am I setting into concrete because I just KEEP SAYING IT OUT LOUD?

(For the record, I do really hate cycling.)


So. I’m going to try to work on that. There are times where I do need to explain myself and my actions to people in conversations. Especially people I’m training with, they probably need to know how intense my fear of cycling is. BUT – I need to work on how I say it, maybe. “I’m really trying to overcome my fear of cycling.” “I’m trying to learn to love cycling.” “I’m struggling to embrace cycling.” That type of thing. It verbally let’s the person know where I stand but it removes the absolute and adds a type of action that sets me up for success in the (very distant) future.

Organized v/s Clean

I’ve never claimed to be a clean person. I don’t fret that my carpets are stained or that my baseboards might be dirty. I don’t have to wash my sheets regularly (or ever). I don’t need to scrub the tub (I do scrub toilets, however) or the sink. I don’t care about dog slobber on windows or hairballs on floors.

But if my counters are cluttered? I can’t go to sleep at night.

Well. I might be able to go to sleep, but knowing they’re cluttered will make me wake up at 3am so I can make sure they’re clean before I leave for work.

My point? Clutter does not last on my counters more than 24 hours.

The “trick” everyone tells you to keeping your house “clean” when it’s on the market is to have baskets/buckets/drawers where you basically hide everything. Places the kids can throw things so that they can clean up after themselves quickly. Places where you can put things that might normally have spots out in the open (like pen jars, I’m not allowed to have pen jars anywhere other than my desk) now have to be hidden. All of this makes it easy to keep the house ready for a showing, BUT IT MAKES A PERSON WHO NEEDS ORDER DOWNRIGHT CRAZY.

There are now “junk” drawers in every room. I HATE JUNK DRAWERS. The kids now have baskets in several places to throw the miscellany they get out or accumulate throughout the days. I HATE BASKETS OF DETRITUS. While it makes it so that my house looks “clean” at a moment’s notice, it makes the organizer in me totally insane.

I have been REALLY tired lately as my schedule and my stress are keeping me at about a 6-hour-a-night sleep maximum and I’ve documented that I go insane without 8 hours of sleep regularly. I almost dozed off driving home from work yesterday. I have no problem going to sleep at night (I feel asleep before 8pm last night) but once my body gets a “reasonable” amount of sleep (usually 4-6 hours) then I’m awake for the day. This means I’m up anywhere from 1am to 4am, depending on when I fell asleep and whether my mind decides to give me 4 hours or 6 hours. (NEVER 8. NEVER EVER 8 HOURS. I even took drugs to help sleep the other night and still, 5.5 hours is all I got.)

ANYWAY. So, this “morning” my body/mind woke up at 1am since I had the GALL to fall asleep by 8pm. FIVE HOURS! TIME TO GO!

So, I took the time to tackles some of those clutter baskets that have been making me CRAZY since we started selling our house.

IMG_7956 copy

IMG_7958 copy

These were the places where the kids stash papers/art/school stuff when they’re done with it or when they’ve needed to clean out their backpacks. One area is in the kitchen, one is in Nikki’s room. I spent two hours this morning going through all of that stuff (including backpacks since school is out) and organized it (or re-organized it since it was, at one point, organized) and labeled it and I think I’m going to tell them if they can’t keep it in some constant order all summer, no one gets new school supplies. BECAUSE WE HAVE ENOUGH TO SUPPLY A SMALL SCHOOL.

And that’s even AFTER I created 1 whole garbage bag of broken/useless clutter from the baskets and piles.


And while I know today is going to suck royal donkey balls because I basically woke up at 1am, I’m glad I can at least breath easier knowing some of the hidden chaos in our house has been organized. Maybe that knowledge will help me sleep as late as, I don’t know, 4 am tomorrow?

A girl can dream.

Simultaneously Great/Awful

One of the things I learned to do to combat my anxieties social situations is to really focus on learning people’s names and using them regularly. This really helps me relax when I can use someone’s name. I’m not sure why, but it makes all encounters seem less formal because I know their name! We’re totally best friends!

HELLO_my_name_is__sticker_set__by_dfmurciaAnd I do that well. I use names when I talk to people all the time. It helps me relax, it helps the other person relax, and it eases any sort of tension I bring to the table with my own social anxieties. That’s the sucky thing about social anxieties, they are felt by everyone in the social encounter and makes everything more volatile. So. When you can do something to lessen the burdensome energy your own anxieties add to a conversation, it’s better for everyone. My working solution is to try to be really good at learning names and using names.

And when I’m good? I’m great.

But. Because I use names as often as possible to ease the tension my anxieties add to all conversations – when I get it wrong? It’s SO FREAKIN’ AWFUL that it creates a whole new world of TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE AWKWARDNESS.

And I get it wrong often.

Now, percentage-wise? I’m still great. I interact with people often and I use names most of the time so my percentages are good.

BUT. Because of the quantity of interactions? It still happens often that I get one wrong. And I do it spectacularly.

Right now? I’m cringing in my desk chair over two incidents lately that make me shudder in retroactive embarrassment.

One was a girl I already worried didn’t like me. I wasn’t sure why, we don’t know each other well, but I just feared she didn’t like me. We spoke once and I thought I would ease my anxieties by using her name but the SECOND I said it I knew it was wrong. But I couldn’t grab any other name so I awkwardly retracted myself from the situation. I tried to find her on Facebook later (we aren’t Facebook friends but we have mutual friends) and for SOME STRANGE REASON, the name I used? Was her MIDDLE name. I’m guessing part of me has seen her Facebook name enough that the two names are in my head with her face. WHY DID I USE HER MIDDLE NAME? And what does she think of me now? If she didn’t like me before, I’m betting I’m not doing any better now.

And then there’s every time I work packet pickup at races. Due to the high concentration of people I know during a 2-3 hour time span, my odds are higher of getting at least a few names wrong. AND I DO IT EVERY TIME. And it makes me feel SO TERRIBLE because – these are my friends and I CALLED THEM THE WRONG NAME. It’s the worst.

But, the relaxation and positive energy using someone’s name brings is still worth the attempt in the long run. Even though I wake up every morning thinking about THAT POOR FRIEND and how shitty I must have made her feel.


How about you? Do you use names a lot when talking to people? Are you good/bad? How long does getting someone’s name wrong haunt YOU in YOUR life? Forever? Yep. Me too.

Turning My Kids Into Future Race Directors

Yesterday was my first day “off” in a whole week! My first rest day! I did 9 workouts in 7 days and then didn’t do SHIT yesterday and it felt great! What did NOT feel great was the incredible amount of binging I did as I was just so damn tired and when I’m tired all I can think to do is eat. So, you know, Yay! for consistent workouts! But Boo! for eating my weight in french fries!

Our town has a big race every Memorial Day. It’s the Cotton Row 10K. There’s a 5K and a 1-mile fun run too, but the big event is the 10K as it’s been running for 30+ years and it involves this fantastic hill that is so steep the road has actually been graded (grated?) to provide better traction for cars. It’s basically 3 miles uphill, and then 3 miles downhill. I was trying to do it in sub-56 minutes for several years (bake in the day they only gave out participation items if you did it under 56 minutes) and finally met that goal last year so this year I decided to finally give back to the event and volunteer. Nikki and I worked packet pickup (which we do for a lot of races, she loves packet pickup) on Sunday and then we all sat at the 5-mile mark yesterday calling out split times for runners. It was pretty great and it always makes me feel good to get my kids out volunteering at races because I want them to understand how many people it takes to get these races going. If you’ve ever run a local event but haven’t volunteered, try to find a way to do that, it will be eye-opening.

Packet Pickup on Sunday

Packet Pickup on Sunday

Split Timing at Mile 5

Split Timing at Mile 5

Split Timing at Mile 5

Split Timing at Mile 5

We have two ways to be “in the loop” for volunteer opportunities in our community. One is our Huntsville Track Club. It’s very cheap and I’m a member and some of the opportunities come from emails with them. BUT – most of the requests for volunteers pop up in a Facebook Group a local person started years ago: We Run Huntsville. It’s a “closed” group, but he lets anyone who is a real human join. It’s actually a pretty great resource all around for group runs and advice seeking, but that’s where I see people post requests and online signups for volunteer opportunities. I tell the kids that I like to volunteer more times per year than races I actually participate in so that, in some way, I’m balancing things out on the side of me giving back more than I take.

Nikki LOVES to volunteer. She just loves feeling like a grown-up and being a part of a big group trying to accomplish something. She actually cried a few weeks ago because Wes and I were going to volunteer at a race and she couldn’t help because she had a soccer game. I can’t tell if Wes actually likes it or not, he usually just plays on his DS but at least he shows up and knows there are people involved with these events that do it just because they want to help. We’ll see if he becomes more involved as he gets older.

I don’t do a lot of volunteering at the kid’s school. I tried this year but failed miserably and have probably been put on “banned” lists at this school for the rest of my life. BUT! I do a lot of volunteering at our local running/triathlon events so I’m hoping – in the big picture – that helps things balance out.

Do you have any events through school/work/church at which your kids can help out? Do you find that maybe one of your kids like it more than others? I never really got E out doing that kind of stuff but I’m really hoping Wes eventually enjoys it like Nikki does. I don’t want that kind of thing to feel like an obligation, but I do want him to give back since he participates in local events too!

Team Stubborn Asshole.

I have a point of discussion I’d like to start up. It seems in most households, there’s some sort of give/take/balance that is not how one person wants it. Maybe the division of domestic chores is to heavy on one person. Maybe someone wants more sex. Maybe someone wants a break from the kids. Maybe someone wants more personal time to pursue hobbies. There’s usually some sort of balance of something that one person needs and the other person doesn’t offer without nagging or pushing. I’m talking about issues that come up time and time again.

At what point in time do you decide, “I’ve made my feelings aware and the balance is not changing so now I’m just going to work on being okay with the way things are so I don’t become angry and bitter?”

Because I’ve done a really good job with that with some of our balance issues in our house. (And there are things he’s settled into accepting about me, too.) I’ve decided I can’t control Donnie’s schedule or priorities or decisions. But I can control my feelings about them. Years ago, when he first started triathlon training and I hadn’t started anything like that, I was angry and bitter with him every time he went on a run/ride/swim. But then I said, “Screw that. I’m doing my own thing.” And I started boot camp and it helped me let go of the bitterness towards him because I got mine own time. I’ve been doing the same in regard to balance of domestic chores. I hated being bitter he wasn’t helping enough so I started just being okay with it and it took away a lot of the general resentment I felt.

So part of me is like: I HAVE FOUND THE SECRET TO A PERFECT LIFETIME PARTNERSHIP! It’s learning to be okay with the things that you can’t change.

But the other part of me is like: UM. Is that fair?

Because, let’s be honest. There are plenty of things I haven’t really budged on either and he’s become okay with it. So, are we just the perfect example of how to be happy forever? Or are we just figuring out how to justify being stubborn assholes?