The older I get, the more I wish I could have done something else with my life, or have pushed to have a different personality. I am shy by nature, and when I was younger I was considered “painfully shy”. It was torture, and I so wish that I could have had the mindset then that I do now about myself. I would have realized that I wasn’t the center of attention and I wasn’t weird. I was normal, and nobody paid attention to me. (I mean that in a good way..) Instead, I let my shyness take over and it caused me to do things that probably DID draw attention to myself. It’s funny how that works.
Even at 35, I’m still shy. I’m able to talk to strangers and I’m able to put on a good front, but on the inside I’m struggling. I’m worried about the things I say, or how I look, or how I come across. After a conversation or interaction is over, I replay it over and over in my head looking for anything that I could have done to cause the other person to think I’m weird. The same goes for email or texting. If I feel like I’m more enthusiastic about the conversation than the other person, I start to worry that maybe I’ve annoyed them or they really don’t like talking to me.
Isn’t that crazy? I know I’m not alone, though.
Last week I reached out to a former coworker (and current friend) just saying “HELLO” and wishing her well since I hadn’t seen her or talked to her much since we had moved. For the entire day we talked back and forth, and this is almost more than we ever talked to each other previously. She is someone who I wished I could be like. She stopped us in the parking lot one day to tell my husband congratulations on graduating, and after wards I told him “I wish I could be like that, I would never have had the courage to just straight up talk to people like that out of nowhere”. I saw her as outgoing and thoughtful and friendly – and I wanted to be more like that! (I still do) Through our marathon email conversations I discovered that my friend is more like me than I had ever imagined. She struggles with anxiety and being shy, she told me that every time she seemed “outgoing” like that, she was actually dying on the inside. I sat back shocked at what I was reading. How can this be?! She puts on such a strong front – I NEVER in a million years would have known that her brain acted the same way mine did when dealing with other people.
I have to admit, I felt a sign of relief. And then thankfulness.
Maybe that doesn’t make sense for me to feel that way, but in MY mind it was so refreshing to see someone JUST LIKE ME be something I WANT to be. She may not realize it, but she’s my motivation moving forward to be a better person to other people. I still want to be like her in the way she’s able to interact with others, even when she’s cringing on the inside. I’m hoping that moving forward I’m able to make this a more natural thing for me, and I’m able to feel more comfortable in social situations with people I don’t know super well.
And, as I’m here talking about how I want to be like someone else, I’m also feeling like I need to just be ME. My friend is just being HER, and it’s perfect and it inspires people like me. In my own little Miranda way, I’m going to try to add a little bit of her in my every day. I’m going to work on being the best ME I can be.
She and I have challenged each other to reach outside our comfort zones each week. Last week I reached out to another person who’s new at UA and I’m going to try and be a good friend to her here. I’m excited for the journey ahead!