If you know me personally, you’d know how much I dislike social interaction. I’m okay around a small group of people — that I know. Being thrown into social situations where a lot of people are involved, even if I’m there with someone I do know, it’s hard for me. Let me give you a few examples.
In my last relationship, I was forced to live a socialite life. His family threw these huge, grand parties and knew people everywhere they went. They were those people. I was in this long distance relationship for 3 years and since he lived in the mainland, I didn’t have to live that life while he was gone. I’d see his family a few times without him being here and even those times were really hard for me no matter how long I had known them. But when he came back, it was non-stop social interaction and he just didn’t understand the toll that had on me. There were times in the midst of the party, I’d break down and cry in the bathroom and just sit there a while. And in the times he’d catch me crying or backing away from these situations, I’d be reprimanded.
Earlier this year, I started attending a new church and alongside that, a new small group. There were maybe 8 people there and I had told the person I was going with that I didn’t want to have to share anything. The pastor assured him that I wouldn’t have to share anything. First thing we did that night? “Draw a self portrait and we’ll go around the circle and share something about ourselves.” Giiiiirrrrl, that ain’t what I signed up for. But I’ve grown to love this group, which has expanded to a few more people and am becoming comfortable talking to these people after 7 months. This is what I shared that first night: “I’m Kelsie and I don’t like public speaking.”
Now, in these examples, I had been with someone I was close to and yet, I was still extremely uncomfortable. Going somewhere social without another person never happens for me. Never. I’m perfectly fine being alone in places that don’t require much interaction. I’m okay shopping by myself, working alone, etc. But going alone to a social event? Nah. This brings me to yesterday and the small victory that I had.
Last month, I saw that Laura Izumikawa (@lauraiz on Instagram) and her family were coming to O’ahu and doing a book signing. I have been following her for years because like…. why wouldn’t you? Cute baby, squishy cheeks, dressed up during naps. I immediately got a ticket for the book signing without even questioning who I would go with because I was that excited. Then the day came.
I drove to the book signing thinking,, “Okay. I can do this. It’s not a big deal. I’ll spend maybe 2 minutes with her and that’s it. Everything’s fine.” WRONG. I was standing in line, looking at all these people ahead of me and started feeling the anxiety trickle in. I started getting jittery and kept looking at the time on my phone. As soon as I was maybe 4 people away from entering, I turned around and left running. Literally. I ran to my car. Mind you, tropical storm Olivia was in effect and the shoes I wore were SO slippery. I risked my life to get out of there. Oh, the drama.
Once I got to my car, I realized I couldn’t even open my door. That parking lot has the tightest spaces and the car next to me had literally given me no chance of leaving. So I just stood there. I thought of other things to do around the area, but again, it was pouring and I would’ve had to walk. I stood there thinking, “It’s only a 2 minute meeting. She wouldn’t remember me anyway, nor would she care that I — specifically me — would be there.” You see how I can use the same ‘2 minute’ excuse to both stay and leave? Happens all the time.
But, instead of standing there like an idiot waiting for this person to move their car, I said a quick prayer (like, “God please help me”) and I decided to go back. I got there 3 minutes before the signing was supposed to end and the only people who were left were the employees of the venue. She graciously said hi to me, signed my book, let me take pictures with her and her daughter and I left.
It’s not much, but I’m happy I did this and I wanted to share with whoever is even reading this. And let me tell you this: Small victories are worth celebrating. This is something I’ve been learning in the past few months on this journey of being renewed and I hope this somehow encourages you to do the same. What’s crazy to think about is how much I’ve ignored the small victories in my life because of my anxiety. I don’t think it’s ever bad to care too much unless it’s caring too much about what people might think of you. And I stress the word “might”. because you won’t ever know until you do it and people can surprise you. In the end, nobody is higher than anyone else (though I can probably pose a pretty compelling argument about Beyonce — like, is she even a human?).
I’m going to be real with you and tell you this: There will still be times when I fail and give into my anxiety. I haven’t overcome it from this simple time alone, but I’ll always have this memory as reference that the world did not end by fighting against it. There are big changes happening in my life, the biggest being forming my own business. I’ll always have a fighting voice that will tell me that I’m not good enough and I’ll always worry what others will think. But Jesus totally fights for me.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18