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.)
DO YOU SEE? I CAN’T STOP MYSELF.
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.