Recently, I attended my ten year high school reunion. Now I don’t know about all of you, but as a kid I always envisioned my reunion to be like those scenes from the movies in which you roll up in an extravagantly flashy car, wearing a ravishing ball gown, and everyone’s jaw drops at how you’ve managed to maintain your petite physic despite being extremely busy with a fabulous career and a picture perfect family.
Was this what mine was like? Not quite. Really what I ended up walking into was a casual pub night in which only a third of my grad class showed up. Mainly, the people who were comfortable in their own skin in high school, proved to still be this way and gathered round to catch up with a group friends who they seemed to all pretty much be in touch with.
But I was literally the only person sitting there out of my previous “circle of friends.” A group of individuals whom due to some circumstance or the other I’ve since lost contact with.
On the nostalgic and quiet drive home I got to thinking – as I most frequently do, about what might’ve caused a large majority of the grad class to not bother to show up.
Did they just not care? Did they have some sort of prior engagement? Or perhaps they just didn’t feel comfortable attending such a momentous event.
Ten years ago, that would’ve been me. I would’ve shied away from any scenario in which I would be required to mingle and socialize without a security bubble or safety net of friends surrounding me. It was intimidating of course. But, where I’m at in life right now, I seriously didn’t give it a second thought as to whether I would attend or not. I was pretty excited to be able to see so many familiar faces once again, only that’s not exactly what I was met with. Instead I kind of just chatted with a few acquaintances and was happy to know they’re all well into their careers and own unique life journeys.
I just wish more people would push themselves to jump out of their own personal “comfort zones.” Anything that creates a little fear or anticipation within you is generally something you’re going to walk away from with the gaining of at least something advantageous.
For example, just last night I forced myself to attend my very first networking event for writers. The first half hour of the event was intended to be a time in which you introduce yourself to fellow like-minded individuals and hopefully make connections with a few people who might be on the same career path as you.
I say I forced myself because of course just like everyone else I get butterflies at the thought of having to speak to complete strangers in an unfamiliar place and scenario. However, I’ve grown to a point of self-realization where I just don’t allow my nerves to dictate my actions. Even more importantly, I don’t allow my fears of what OTHERS might think of me control what I do and don’t do at all.
I suppose it’s a change which came about when I had my son. Once an entire room of individuals has seen you in your most vulnerable state – giving birth, prior to giving birth, or just after having given birth. Being shy kind of goes right out the window.
Also, quite frankly, I just don’t want my son to think his mom is a pansy. I want him to follow in my footsteps of constantly pushing yourself to face your fears and overcome your social anxiety. I never would’ve thought I would be able to be the first one to approach someone I didn’t know and strike up a conversation. I mean I was the person who silently prayed I wouldn’t be called upon every single day in school. I would’ve much rather just disappeared into thin air than speak up in a room full of people.
But life’s just too short to constantly be afraid. When faced with the decision of whether or not to approach someone, go somewhere new, or do something different. I always question “why not?” Will I lose anything by doing so, most likely not. But to constantly avoid or skip out on things just because it’s easier to do so is to agree to a lifetime of complacency and selling yourself short.
I encourage you, just get OUT THERE. Nothing good will come if you stay within the razor edged disguised comfort of your own inner demons. Push your own boundaries and you’ll be amazed at just how much progress can be made with just a few successful interactions.
Don’t skip out on once in a lifetime occurrences just because it’s easier to sit at home. You may not realize it now, but a day will come when you realize you wished you had just stepped out your comfort zone a little more. Because after all, your greatest experiences are always the least expected, slightly scary, and challenging ones.