So one of my coworkers (also named Meghan) got invited through her husband's work, to attend one of his student's wedding next year in Ireland. Of course thats an incredible opportunity and, as you can imagine, I was more than jealous. I can't stop thinking about how badly I want to travel. A couple weeks ago I was browsing this amazing website called WorkAway where you can travel almost anywhere in the world where people "host" their house for rent, and the payment is work. It seems like a wonderful program, props to whoever set it up, but it makes me extremely depressed looking through the pictures of houses and areas where people host, because I so terribly want to travel. Just thinking about Meghan going to Ireland makes me sick with dissatisfaction and jealousy.
Kill me! How can I travel? How do I get a job that requires travel? You know, I'd probably be ok just traveling once and then staying there and working there. Maybe I should get into the movies. They go everywhere. Though it makes me nervous thinking about doing that, because I'm bad at making connections with people and thats the biggest way to get jobs in the TV business.
My life is just not exciting and i need CHANGE. Even a freaking boyfriend, idk, I need something. And how long do I have to wait? I'm tired of waiting. What if thats all I end up doing for the next ten years and I never go anywhere or make new friends and nothing changes. I'm terrified of that. I'm terrified that I'm going to be 30, single, still living at home, still at the same job, and worse off than I am today. At least I'm cute and young now, but in ten years I'll be creepy and super excluded from society. Quiet and depressed-- surpressing the years of endless monotony that make my brain go crazy.
My life is going to eat me alive. I know what I like, but I'm not brave enough to break out of my comfort zone to do it. Traveling and job changing and the habits I'm interested in aren't things I can just up and go do. A part of me wants to do it anyways, and another part of me knows I'll never be able to, and yet another part of me accepts that I can't change my life and wants to die so that I don't have to deal with the disappointment of never changing. And this is not just about jobs and careers, its about confidence and change and adventure. If that means anything to me (which it clearly does), you'd think I'd be more than ready and willing to change. I'm scared of the one thing that I need most: change.
So, I somehow convinced myself that this was going to be a good idea. Everyone reassured me that it was a fine idea when I explained it, so I felt okay about it. Here is a graphic representation of what I envisioned along with a poem that inspired me.
The idea was that I would buy a balloon and give it away. This is how I saw it. A great time, framed by this whimsical poem of spring. I imagined that I would be a little awkward like Cummings' balloon man, but I would make people happy. That's not quite how it went.
First, I went to the party store. I picked out a big monkey balloon. A big monkey balloon. I tied it to a hair band around my wrist. I drove to a store I was not accustomed to. I felt lost as I wandered through the isles looking for someone to give the balloon to.
I felt like people were staring at me because I was carrying a giant monkey balloon. They were. I knew I should look them in the eye and smile. I think they were grinning at me. But I started feeling self conscious. Where was my inner extrovert when I needed it?! "Square your back, chin up, don't look at the floor," I told myself. And just then I saw a mom with a toddler.
I approached my "prey." I asked the mother if she wanted a balloon. Her eyes widened. She looked flustered. I freaked out."Oh, no. Oh, no. What does she think is wrong with me? Oh, no. Oh crap," Uncertainty crept through my spine like seeping, black, fog. That made her feel even less sure. As I drew the balloon toward her, she tensed. Okay, this was stupid. "Well," I said, "he's probably too young"
"Yeah, too young... I was going to say," she responded. I walked off. AGH! Why did I decide to walk around Walmart with a giant monkey balloon? Could I please explain that to myself again? How did this seem like a great idea? I felt like a big, stupid, clown. It was as if the monkey was screaming, "Idiot! Idiot!Idiot!"
I hid in the toy isles and pretended to look at some Batman action figures. I felt a burning in the back of my eyes. Was I going to cry? "Dear Heavenly Father," I prayed, "Please do not let me cry in Walmart while holding a monkey balloon."
I emerged into a clearing of children's clothes. I passed some people who stared at monkey and me. I felt ashamed. I had to get rid of this horrible, smiling, banana munching anathema of evil. A girl of perhaps three or four and her mother were picking out clothes. They had their backs to me. Great, now I had to get their attention.
"Um," I stammered, "excuse me." They turned around. "Um, I was buying balloons for a friend" a partial lie, only a partial lie, "and I had this extra balloon" that was true, "and I'm trying to give it away." She looked slightly confused. "So, um, do you want it?"
Ahh! This awkwardness surpassed Napoleon Dynamite! "Sure," she said politely. Turning to her daughter, "It's your birthday next week anyway, isn't it?"
The little girl happened to be wearing a monkey hat. "It matches your hat," I said. She smiled as I transferred the burden from my wrist to hers. I felt like Frodo finally dropping the ring into the volcano. I turned to go. "Thank you!" the mom said.
When I got to my car, I felt like the most giant loser on the planet. What had I been thinking? "Stupid,stupid, stupid!" I told myself. I suppose, in feeling these things, I was doing what my therapist, Dr. Headman, tells me I often do. I was figuratively sticking an ice pick into my leg and twisting it all around. I didn't actually do anything wrong. In a sense, it happened a bit like I had imagined, but with minor set backs that I blew out of proportion. I gave a little girl, who obviously loved monkeys, a giant monkey balloon a week before her birthday. 'nough said.
Sometimes, people think that shy people are snobs and that's why they don't interact more. A cool, quirky girl wrote a blog entry that discusses how this is usually not true.
In the case of people with anxiety, it's not that they don't like people or don't want to have positive interactions with them. It's not that they don't want to make friends. It's that it's hard for them. They may feel foolish, as if they're carrying around a giant monkey balloon and are inevitably going to elicit rejection.
Until my next awkward adventure,
Namaste (bye in Napalese)