20 years ago…hold on. Let me process this for a second. 20 years ago??? How was that life 20 YEARS AGO? How and why was I an adult 20 years ago?? Whew, chile…
20 years ago, I stayed outside. Lived to be outside. Outside called my name and I went running. I don’t know where I got the money, but I could be outside almost every weekend. If there was a party, I was there, had to be there, and wasn’t leaving until they turned the lights on. I was a pro at working 6-8 hours off and 3-4 hours of sleep. One night/morning, I got about 30 minutes of sleep, but that’s another story for another day.
Then I had more kids and outside was less appealing. Keeping one kid was one thing, but 2-to 3 was something else, especially my youngest two (again, another story for another day). So I retired. Deemed I was getting too old for that life. It wasn’t even just the club that I got too old for, it was hanging out period. Dinner. Weekend trips. Anything that required me to be social. I let me talk me out of being social.
As I got older, my social anxiety held me hostage. What’s funny is I’ve always had social anxiety. It wasn’t always so bad, but when I was younger, I pushed it aside because I had a bigger purpose: Attention (I don’t know if I talked about it out loud before, but again, another story for another day). But when I was younger, I fought the little voice that tried to keep me home and dove into a social life head first for all the wrong reasons. And when I came down, I came down. HARD.
For years I avoided as many social interactions as possible out of fear and insecurities. For someone who is harder on themselves than anyone could ever be, it was almost debilitating to be in a social situation. I didn’t want to say or do the wrong thing. I feared people looking at me. I didn’t want to make small talk. I overanalyzed and overthought every single interaction. I used to make excuses but even those stopped. It was simply “I don’t want to go”. And I didn’t.
I didn’t necessarily have FOMO (fear of missing out) because I couldn’t handle social situations, but I often wondered why couldn’t I just go out and have a good time? People outside looked happy. They were having fun. They were taking opportunities to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, degrees, opening businesses, closing on houses, having kids. They were even celebrating simple things like making it through the workweek and having a babysitter for the weekend. And I was envious. So, so envious.
Why couldn’t I just let go of the fear and be outside like everyone else?
It wasn’t Covid that pushed me outside, it was all the loss of 2021 that got me together (another story…I’m sure you get it by now). But 2021 was emotionally heavy and taxing for me. I don’t know if I was being tested or if life was just lifing, but being inside, saying no when I was invited out, avoiding any and everything social wasn’t the life I wanted to live anymore. I wanted to say yes and get out of the house.
Another fun fact…I would always say no but the few times I said yes, I actually had a really good time. My hurdle was getting over the lies I told myself.
“Girl, you know they are going to be looking at you”
“If you say the wrong thing, you’ll be up for hours replaying the conversation. Just stay home”
“You know you don’t have anything to wear”
“You know what you don’t have to worry about inside? People looking. People talking. People, period”
But for the past few months, I’ve been getting out of the house. And that voice that tried to keep me home was wrong. As it always is. I’m taking every opportunity I can to live outside of what I’m used to, what I thought I deserved, what I thought I could wear, where I thought I could go.
Now, I won’t lie and say it’s been easy cause it definitely hasn’t been. I still get nervous around crowds of people. I still have moments where I’m uncomfortable. I have to have pep talks with myself. I’m tempted to say no. Fortunately, I have been able to quiet the voices and get out and enjoy myself. Not to mention I have friends who are invested in my well-being.
For me, being outside has been somewhat therapeutic. I have been outside, literally and outside of my comfort zone. It’s a simple thing but quieting the voice has been a feat of strength I didn’t know I possessed.
For some, it may not seem that deep. But for someone who has suffered a lifetime of insecurities and doubt…