Okay, so I’m sitting in Panera Bread right now because I like their coffee and wi-fi. And people make fascinating studies for any decent writer. Now, I’m minding my own business, per usual, averting my glances from any chance of eye contact with others because I’m convinced they can tell I’m shy and a little insecure. The iPod is quietly shuffling tunes in the background as I divide my attention between Twitter, Facebook, CNN, Adam Young’s blog and a percolating idea for a post when an uncomfortable amount of teenagers decide to takeover ever available table, chair and booth around my own small booth and table in the corner of the back room. Suddenly, my musical world is shattered by:
“Ohmigosh did you hear what happened to….”
“Ugh! My Econ final was….”
“Are you serious?!”
“There’s not enough room….”
Imagine twenty teens talking (all at the same time, I might add) as if their friends are across the restaurant when really they are only a few inches away. Cell phones and flipping hair (from both males and females) abound. A boy and girl are touching and flirting as if they are not surrounded by their friends as well as strangers, and I’m surreptitiously ignoring them. Until a familiar face appears at the table next to mine.
Suddenly, this computer screen is the most enthralling thing I’ve seen, like, ever. I lean my head against the wall to recover from the dizzy that happens behind my eyes every time I see a person I kind of know outside of where I know them. In this particular case, the boy I recognize, who is a part of this large herd of pubescent creatures, is a friend of my cousin Rachel. He came to a couple of our weekly get-togethers of Glee-watching at Rachel’s house. We talked a little, but mostly he and Rachel discussed school while I looked from him to her, putting faces and settings to the names and scenarios they were verbally throwing back and forth without explanation. There was no need for clarification. They understood what they were talking about as they both go to the same school, run with the same crowds, have some of the same classes.
Anyway, now I’m praying he won’t recognize me. Maybe he didn’t see me blending with the wall in the corner. Or maybe he thinks he might know me but he’s too afraid of what his friends will think if he says ‘hi’ and I’m not who he thought. Whatever the case, I’m thinking if I just stare at the computer then he can’t even see me. Not making eye contact is the invisibility of the shy. I wonder if he’s waiting for me to say ‘hi’ first, but there is no way that is happening. I am unfamiliar to seeing him in this place and with these people, so I just keep quiet to avoid making a public spectacle of myself.
But why? Why do I care what people think of me? Is this a flaw in my personality? Should I be more extroverted so people view me as friendly and approachable? Is this introversion the reason why I can’t seem to find my soul mate? Did I meet him once but was too apprehensive to strike up a conversation?
These questions bombard my brain until it becomes easy to just shut down and drown them out with some Beach Boys and a 4-mile run. So, I convince myself that I’m just misunderstood by most, and being guarded is just protection against those who want to prey on my fragile emotions. Having a few close, trustworthy friends is better than giving away so much of myself to people who don’t really care until I’m a bitter, broken mess. Then I’m reminded of a particular Relient K song. You recite my words right back to me before I even speak; You let me know I am understood.
God created me and my personality. He knows, and can completely relate, to every internal or external struggle I can and will ever have. Sure, I would benefit from a complete character overhaul, but who wouldn’t? The point is this, my friends. Every individual has a say in who they are, but we can’t necessarily change how others view us. Be the person you are, the person God created you to be, and let Him worry about the rest. He knows my quirks and thought patterns and wants to meet me where I am because He is love. So, I’m letting Him. I’m surrendering control.