Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day Two: Showing up

I've learned a valuable lesson in my life about just being present.  I feel like it is my instinctive nature to withdraw from social situations, or any situation for that matter.  Part of this has to do with my introversion, a personality characteristic that causes one to focus energy inward.  However, a big part is that I'm just very anxious about the unknown.  I'm afraid that I won't know the right thing to say, which I often don't, and thus feel anxious about participating in things I'm not already comfortable doing.  Even now I tend to over think everything I'm writing about because I'm afraid of letting a genuine piece of myself open for the public to scrutinize. 

Now if I had allowed this part of me to control my life completely, you can probably imagine where I would be today. I would never have learned to drive (very intimidating especially when you learn on a manual), I would never have flown three quarters of the way across the country to attend college, and I probably would never have taken the opportunity to work in a national park for the summer where I met a lot of fascinating internationals.  I have now spent three such summers in Sequoia National Park and have never ceased meeting some truely amazing people. 

It was during my time at Greenville College that I came to understand the value of showing up.  I realized while I was there that I had a tendancy to avoid new people and new situations and being 2,000 miles from home, new was pretty much the only option.  Although the majority of students were from the state of Illinois, everyone was pretty much in the same boat that I was.  I'm not sure exactly when my attitude changed but I decided that when opportunities for new social activities arose, my default answer would be "YES!"  I began to just be present for anything that arose.  There were concerts, bible studies, midnight theater trips, or even just hanging out with new people at the student union.  I even started showering in the morning because there about a 50% chance something fun was going on in the later hours of the day. 

I have tried my hardest to mantain this attitude after college.  It's more difficult when I go places on my own.  I still feel awkward.  I still don't know what to say, how to act, or what to do but I don't allow it to stop me from being present.  Sometimes these feelings go away within the first 10 minutes (rare) and sometimes they last well after I've already left but I just can't help but think it gets a little better every time.  Maybe, just maybe, I'm learning how to be a functional social being and it's all because I made a conscious decision to be present.  Hopefully I'll get there someday. 


1 comment:

reddy said...

I really appreciated this post!! Awkwardness and fear of the unknown are emotions that I often feel, and I think that they are intensified by the fact that I tend to think that I am the only person who feels this way. Thanks for helping me feel more normal!!!

PS I had to start another blog because I couldn't figure out how to log into the other one. maybe I should actually post this time, eh?

PPS I really want some pancakes right now