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May 24, 2005

It'll Happen...Eventually

I had a minor personal epiphany today. Follow me for a moment...

Growing up, we moved a lot - A LOT! I attended 13 schools K-12. Sometimes I would go to 3 different schools in the same school year. I went to 4 different schools for Jr. High and 2 different schools for High School. Needless to say, I was well traveled quite young!

I had a few concerns when moving to a new school. I didn't want to be "the new kid". I wanted to blend. I wanted to fit in with some crowd. The new kid stands out! I didn't want to be the doofy new kid that couldn't find her classroom, who couldn't figure out how to get in her locker, who didn't know which bus to get on, who sat by the wrong person at lunch, who was laughed at for whatever reason.

The more I moved, the harder I tried to fit in at each new location. I changed my music preferences, I'd change my mannerisms...I didn't care, as long as I was blending in. I remember in 2nd and 3rd grade when I started to actually hear other kids swear. I remember thinking how stupid it was. Come 4th grade, guess what I was doing? Yep, that's wear my mouth came from! Well, not totally. I would swear when I was with that group of kids.

Each year I tried harder and harder to fit in. I didn't really start to feel comfortable in school or even like it until 6th grade...when I started band. I was in a group - we all had a common link. Band is what helped moving get easier. Then I started to become good. I made a reputation for myself as this talented musician.

The older I got and the more I moved, I started to branch out. Once I got to high school, I started joining so many extra curricular activities. I joined every club, every sport possible. I held so many was ridiculous. There would be days that I would get to school an hour early, around 7am, and be there until midnight because of practices, games, and dances. I was always there! My junior year, I had the most pictures in the yearbook. Not because I was popular, because I wasn't...but because I was in so many damn clubs or activities.

Then I went to college, where fitting in was important again. I never wanted to feel alone or left out. I wanted something out of classes to look forward to and have people to count on. It took a few months and a change of dorm room and I finally found it. Other stuff happened to make that year rough....very rough. But without those few that were there, I wouldn't have gotten through it!

After looking back, all that work to fit didn't work; at least not most of the time. I always stood out. I look back at the comments I got on my report cards, the messages I got in my yearbooks, the letters of recommendation I got for college...I always stood out. I always had a reputation for being different. I had made a name for myself. My dad has and does, periodically ask me, "What's the most important thing you have?" The answer? My name!

So what I worked so hard for...for so long, wasn't what I needed now! In the real world, as an adult, you have to stand out! To make it, to be successful, to move forward, to make a difference, to accomplish almost anything, you have to stand out!

I tend to stick out at work because there is a different goal there. The goal isn't for me to fit in and not feel like an outcast...that's what I want...what I need to survive.

But in my world, my personal life, I know I need to throw myself out there more. I've been told this more than once and I'll be hearing this again, I know.

Every once in a while I will, throw myself out there, express an opinion, make conversation...most of those time have been with my partner, Jose Cuervo though.

Usually, at Curves, I'll do my thing, I'll smile and nod my head hi if someone walks by, I'll tell the employees to have a good day. But that's about it. Striking up conversation is not my forte. And usually when I do strike it, it's with sarcasm.

Today, I was doing my workout, and to the right of me was the girl that signed me up for Curves and a new girl trying the place out for the first time. I was listening in to their conversation (I can be quite nosy), and finally, after about 15 minutes of them following me, I started cracking a few jokes. The employee would be explaining a machine, and I would reply with something like, "and that one will make you feel like you have to puke" So as we go around, we continue this back and forth banter...made the work out go much faster!

Afterward, I got in the leg tanner for awhile. I love that thing, I can sit there with my legs in this nice warm machine while still listening to what's going on around me. (You can't hear anything when you are in the tanning booth) I went to sit in a chair to put on my shoes, and the employee and two other women were chatting. Someone had mentioned she had volunteer work to do. I have been looking for volunteer work, but haven't found much around here yet. So I spoke up, yes me...and asked where they were doing volunteer work. They were all excited that someone wanted to volunteer and they had tons of places to suggest. We talked a few minutes about that, I mentioned I was new to the area and we talked about where I moved from and their preferences to live in the country.

Then, as I was leaving and we were saying our goodbyes, they said, "See ya tomorrow". What powerful words! Suggest that they actually wouldn't mind to see you weren't that repelling!

I know this all might sound absurd, but I struggle with what someone might think when I say something or put myself out there. I think I assume most people are unkind, caught up in their own worlds, and that it takes a lot more work than it really does to earn "the right" to talk to someone and enjoy simple conversation. And because of this, I think I might come across unkind. Don't get me wrong, I am the first person to help someone. The old lady at the gas station that can't work the credit card machine, the woman and her kid on the side of the road with a flat tire, the chic in the store that just dropped her whole purse. I have manners! But otherwise, if there isn't a minor crisis to build that instant need for communication, I doubt why that person would even want to engage. Their minds might be somewhere else, they might not feel like chatting, they may find me quite boring or ridiculous...or who knows what else.

I know...I think way too much! But this is what goes through my head many times a day! But we are working through it! :-) And there will be more chances to work on it, and I'll hear more from my friends that I need to step out more. But it'll happen, slowly but surely.

Posted by Sissy at May 24, 2005 09:36 PM

Thank you for sharing. It's nice to see another layer of my friend.

Posted by: Morrigan at May 24, 2005 10:18 PM

Yay for you for stepping out of your boundaries!

Posted by: caltechgirl at May 24, 2005 10:31 PM

Blogging helps.

Voice of experience, here :-)

Posted by: Harvey at May 25, 2005 08:03 AM

Sissy, See Ya Tomorrow (or maybe even later this afternoon, depending on how much work I have to do!) Keep it up, you will find out that you will get more and more bold out there, and I second Harvey, blogging helps.

Posted by: Oddybobo at May 25, 2005 08:46 AM

Good for you, reaching out like that!

Posted by: RP at May 25, 2005 09:46 AM

They need to have another Bad Example family reunion, so you can get over all of this fear. Here is the bigger secret, a lot of people feel this way. Everyone has fear of being rejected.

Posted by: ArmyWifeToddlerMom at May 25, 2005 11:24 AM

That was great. Kinda like reading into my own mind there Sissy! You know we are both a lot alike in that respect and really the only common denominator of us meeting each other was work, but damn I'm glad we did. I'm going to take a cue on this blog and try to get out there more myself! Thanks for the inspiration!

Posted by: Napster at May 25, 2005 01:41 PM

Yeah, I always wanted to blend. I hated getting that school map out... the thought everyone could tell I was clueless.

I never wanted to stand out. I still do a lot of watching. I'm comfortable with who I am now, I don't really give a crap for the most part what people thing... but I'm still a periphery kinda gal. It's a habit I suppose.

Posted by: Boudicca at May 25, 2005 09:30 PM