The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “Month 2 Rekindling Friendships”

Spending Time with Friends

A week ago on Monday I met up with my friend Jennifer who I hadn’t seen since the summer.  She wanted to meet at a Starbucks I’d never been to before, but I looked it up on google maps and found it without any trouble.  Although I haven’t been making trips too far away, all these little trips to new places have been helpful.  Eventually I want to try some longer distances.  When I first drove to both of my colleges last semester for the first days of school that was very nerve-racking, but now I feel comfortable driving to those places.

Last week on Thursday night I had my first yoga class, which was also in a new place I’d never been to, but I found it no problem as well.  When I got to the class there was a lady and a man sitting outside on chairs looking bored (the man was practically sleeping actually).  I went up to the lady and immediately asked her if this was the yoga class, then I sat down and we started talking from there.  That one question, “Is this the ____ class?” is often how I start talking to people I don’t know.  It works!  We talked the rest of the time while we were waiting and admitted that we were both yoga newbies and didn’t know what to expect.  When we started the class, we found out that it had actually started a week before even!  I was confused by that and she was too, but luckily we were able to stick together and catch up.  The class was alright.  I had trouble completely relaxing though because I wanted to check and see if I was doing the poses right. I think the more I do it the more I’ll be able to calm my mind and keep my eyes closed.  It was interesting though.  Some of the poses were a little difficult to hold but others I felt good with.

I’ve been pretty busy seeing a lot of friends lately.  I’ve been going out every day practically, and I’ve been loving it.  I saw my friend Doug and got to know Susie better when we went hiking/exploring together around a beach, which was cool.  It was a beautiful day and it was nice being out in the sunshine.  I went to Berkeley with Gabi, Isis, and Aaron on Friday too and that was fun.  UC Berkeley is a really beautiful campus.  I went swing dancing afterward that night and invited Gabi and Isis since we had room, and it was one of the best nights of dancing in a long time.  I danced a lot and had a lot of great dances.  I followed for some of the night, led for the other, danced east coast swing at times, then lindy hop, then some west coast, and then ended the night with some blues dancing.  I hadn’t danced blues much at all before, but one of my friends Stu helped explain to me the movement, and now I understand it much better.  It was fun!

I also went to a Belly Dance Performance recently with my friend Angela to see my friend Johanna (one of the friends I made at college when I was trying to make new friends!), and that was a great night.  Angela and I got lost and ended up going to the next city over, but eventually we found our way back and found a place to eat.  I was glad I wasn’t driving though because the directions were confusing and google maps didn’t work out this time.  Angela and I had a great night together and had a good bonding day discussing a lot of personal matters.  She’s like my sister and we can tell each other any and everything.  When we finally arrived at the performance place, we watched the show and had a great time.  Johanna did awesome and so did the other belly dancers.  The live band was really great to listen to and the belly dancing was really neat to watch.

I saw my friend K Tuesday too, who is also a friend I made at college when I was trying to make new friends.  I’ve hung out with K and Johanna the most from college and it’s great that I made two good friends so quickly.  I know we’re going to be long-time friends.  K and I played tennis and it was fun, though very tiring.  Despite running and walking every day I forgot how intense tennis can be.  We rallied a while and then played 2 out of 3 games.  K wanted to bet something so he bet that the loser would buy coffee, but I won so he ended up having to buy his own coffee and buying me hot chocolate.  It was fun and it was nice walking around and showing him my town.  He excitedly asked if I had my camera and I said yes, and so of course we took a lot of pictures (like the one posted here).  Picture taking is a simple activity but it’s a lot of fun when you use creativity for your poses and people tend to know that I love pictures and love taking them with me.

So I’ve been busy seeing a lot of friends, and it’s been great because I hadn’t seen a lot of them in a while.  The winter break is about to end soon though so we will all be more busy with school soon.  I also went to Toastmasters recently and tried the Timer role for once, and at first I was confused but eventually I figured out how the set-ups worked.  I still got called up for an impromptu speech with Table Topics though.  I had been hoping I wouldn’t be picked since I hadn’t been in a while and Table Topics is still the most nerve-racking part of Toastmasters, but I responded to the question, “What would you do if you won 10 million dollars?” and spoke for a little under two minutes, then sat back down.  I pulled every idea of what I would do out of my head though I didn’t really have any time to plan or think about what I wanted to say.  I said more “um’s” than usual because it had been a while since I’d been to Toastmasters, but funnily enough I ended up winning “Best Table Topics speaker”, which was reassuring and encouraging.  I also recently had to call for an appointment with a counselor at one of my colleges, and I still felt that familiar nervous feeling, but I made the call and set up an appointment for myself.  The woman I spoke to was a little rude and huffy, but I understand because it’s probably not a fun job dealing with students all day and scheduling appointments.  Those are some updates of how things have been going post-project.

My First Day of College (Part II)

PART 2 Continued from Part 1

I was feeling pumped after my great start to the day and marched into my first class, International Relations, with confidence. 

I did a silly thing however and planted myself at a desk isolated from people already seated.  That was kind of dumb.  You can’t talk to people if you aren’t sitting next to people.  Luckily, the seats around me filled quickly.  The room was uncomfortably quiet, however, and I hesitated to break the silence.

Even so, I turned to my left and started talking to the girl next to me.  I introduced myself and she did the same.  When I asked her where she went to high school, I thought she said the name of my town!  I thought that was crazy!  Excited, I said, “Really?!  Me too!  How do I not know you?”

She looked at me, confused.  Then I felt confused.  “You did say (name of my town), right?”

“No I said Indonesia!” she exclaimed.

I laughed at the mix up, and admitted with an amused smile that I wasn’t from Indonesia then.

She smiled.  She told me she’d only been here (the U.S.) a month, which surprised me and I told her.  She has great English!  She was flattered and thanked me for saying that.  I was talking a lot to her and asking questions, and I actually started to worry I was talking TOO much.  I decided to be a little quieter.

I found out that she had a similar schedule to me and we both had about a two hour break after this class before our next classes.  I thought about asking her if she wanted to have lunch, but I was afraid that I had talked too much earlier and she might find me annoying.  I decided to not ask in case I was being overly friendly.

The class started and the syllabus was intimidating with all the work to be done in the class.  We were given an assignment and were told we could work with other people around us.  To summarize, I introduced myself to Erica in front of me, K to my diagonal, and Aileen on my right, and brought Yuli into the group too.  The teacher beamed at us as were introducing ourselves and laughing- the assignment was baffling us all (filling in the countries of a blank Middle East map). To my surprise, many of the others in the class stuck to themselves in hesitation.

After class we all gathered our things, and Erica turned to say bye to me before she left.  I stood up to leave and Yuli did too, and wouldn’t you know it, she said “Come! Let’s have lunch together!”

I was delightfully surprised that she wanted to have lunch and was relieved that I hadn’t talked too much earlier.  I smiled and said “Yeah that would be great!”

So we had lunch together and she told me all about Indonesia and I told her about America.  Our cultures and experiences didn’t really sound that different.  We wandered around the campus together and it was really nice.  I felt comfortable with her already.  I noticed several people on their own at lunch reading or whatever else.  I was glad I had made a friend already and didn’t have to eat alone.

After nearly two hours of talking, walking, and sitting, it was time to part ways for our classes, and I swapped numbers with her too.

Swing dance class was next.  Soon enough, I started talking with one of the girls waiting outside the class.  Turns out she’s a professional belly dancer despite her petite figure.  We stuck together the rest of the class.

Afterward in salsa class, I was approached for the first time.  The guy leaning against the wall next to me started talking to me, and I was glad someone came up to me.  When we entered the class he met another guy, and then I met the other guy too, and we all became friends.  We lined up side by side smiling as we got ready to learn the salsa.  They were both friendly, nice guys and I was glad we had already become friends.

And that concludes my first day of college.  It could not have gone any better!

My First Day of College (Part I)

My eyes darted from each passing stony face.  My heart pounded.  Butterflies infiltrated my stomach.

It felt like the first day of high school all over again.

Except this time, I was completely on my own.

I had arrived an hour early.  I took a little tour of the campus to waste time.  I only walked to the library before I turned around, however, and returned to the building near my first class.

There were a lot of people sitting on the benches outside the Liberal Arts building.  Some were with another person.  Some were alone.  Those alone, however, had ipod earbuds smashed in their ears or a cellphone or book glued to their fingers.

A hopeful conversationalist’s dream.

Not.

I decided to sit between two girls who were spread out on their respective ends of one seating area.  On my right, the girl was plugged in to her ipod.  On my left, the girl was texting.  But, she was looking up every once in a while, and was only texting occasionally.

I sat there feeling a bit awkward at first.  I concentrated my attention to my jacket sleeve which had some loose strings and then flipped mindlessly through my International Relations textbook.  The boys across from me on the opposite seating area stared at me like they could see through my calm façade.  I decided to shut off my imagination and not project my own feelings onto them.

As I was glancing up quite a bit, I noticed the girl texting was looking up quite a bit too and seemed kind of bored.

So I decided to try talking to her.

“Is this your first time at college?” I finally asked, turning to her.

“Yeah I had my first class earlier,” she replied, turning to me and smiling.

“Oh cool!  It’s my first day here too!”

And that, my friends, was the start of what ended up being a 45 minute conversation with a stranger.  It was a long time to talk to someone I knew nothing about, but it went well.  It did not feel awkward at all.  Just being in the same setting, college, gave us plenty to talk about.  As it was about time for our next class, I suggested swapping numbers, and we did!

I was feeling pumped after my great start to the day and marched into my first class, International Relations, with confidence…

(Stay tuned for Part II…) *This is like a comic book!*

Make New Friends

Public speaking was a great challenge.  It was probably the hardest one yet because being the center of attention like that brings out the natural shyness in many of us.

I honestly did not feel confident that I was going to be able undertake Toastmasters and public speaking.  I’ve always hated presentations and even the word “presentation” or “oral report” was enough to make my stomach churn and my heart race.  In the past I’ve worried weeks before presentations in school and have had trouble sleeping and concentrating on anything else but the presentation.

Of course, I still get nervous for a presentation. I still worry about forgetting what I’m saying or making a fool of myself.  But I’ve gotten a lot better at quieting my negative voice and magnifying my positive voice.  This has definitely helped reduce the time I’ve spent worrying about an upcoming presentation or speech.  I’ve felt less stressed.

Even though I’m moving on to my next goal now, I am continuing with Toastmasters, like I have continued with my other goals.  It is a fairly big time commitment since it is every week, but I know that the benefits of this educational program will be extraordinary.

But now, it is time for another goal.

It’s time…to make new friends.

High school ended.  College is starting.  It’s the prime time for me to move out of my comfort zone and expand my circle of friends.  Several high school friends are moving away, and although several of my friends are still going to be in the area, I think it’s important to meet new people too.

When you go to a four year college, it is supposedly a lot easier to make friends.  You share a dorm room with someone, who could be a potential friend, or who could be a potential nightmare.  You live on campus so you are surrounded by thousands of other people around your age.  There are house parties, clubs and organizations, sports, campus events, and so forth.

Community college, however, is different.  A majority of the students come to school, take their classes, and then head home or off to work.  There aren’t living arrangements on campus.  There aren’t as many campus events, if any.  Making new friends is a little harder.

One of the main reasons why I wanted desperately to go to a four-year school before was to make new friends.  My brother Andrew made a family away from home while he was at UC San Diego.  He is still good friends with many of them today, even though they live in different parts of the country.  My brother Sean spent his first few years at community college, but didn’t really make any friends there.  It wasn’t until he went to Sonoma State that he met Brian, who welcomed him into his large circle of friends.

I realize it’ll be easier to make more friends once I transfer to a four-year school, but I want to make the most of my experience at community college.  I’ve learned so much from the friends I’ve made in the past and I really love getting to know people.  My hope now is that I can make some new friends.  The trouble is, how do I go about doing that?

My main idea is to make at least one friend in each of my classes this semester. I don’t know if I’ll be able to join school clubs where I realize it would be a lot easier to meet people, but I can make friends in my courses.  Since I have little time with six classes and a new job, I’ll have to get creative.  I can meet friends of my new friends.  I can meet friends of my current friends.  I can make my friend search well-known, so people know I am looking to meet new people and would love to be introduced.

College is a time for a fresh start and new beginnings, and I am more than ready to come in with a clean slate.  If I make an effort, I believe it will be possible to make friends at community college.  It’s all about making that first move and seeing where it goes from there.

Who knows who I could meet if I just try?

Painfully Shy

A neon green package arrived in my mailbox on Thursday.

I hastily tried to open it.  Soon enough, I pulled out the book, Painfully Shy, by Barbara and Gregory Markway.  I eagerly glanced inside the book to read the message written to me with my mom.

The message was very kind and is one I will always love and treasure.  Her closing line was “You have a gentle charisma that shines through in your writing, and I also saw it in your Icebreaker Speech.”

This is the first time I’ve ever gotten a book sent to me.  I’ve never even had a book signed before!

I have only gotten to read a little bit of her book so far, but I’ve already been hooked and have sticky notes on several pages.  I love reading the stories of all the people Barb has met working as a psychologist in particular.  And I love reading about her personal experiences with shyness and anxiety too, and getting to know her even better through the book.

Barb found me thanks to a comment I made on the Quiet: The Power of Introverts blog.  She contacted me and asked me to send her an email, so I did.  It was then that she told me that she could relate to so much of my blog and wanted to send me one of her books that shared several of her experiences.  She said she doesn’t think I am painfully shy anymore, but that it might give me some ideas for my project .  I was flattered and told her that would be awesome.

She’s been very interested in my project and has been a pleasure to talk to through email.  It’s been great emailing back and forth and we’ve become fast friends.  (I can’t help but write book-length emails to her every time!) I’m very honored to get to know her!  She is one cool lady who I’d love to meet in person.  So go to her site, and fill it with lots of good comments.  She has really great, thought-provoking posts!  I can’t wait to read more of her book!

http://markway.com/

Barbara Markway, Ph.D., is a psychologist and author. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including: the New York Times, Washington Post, Today Show, and Good Morning America. Her first book, Dying of Embarrassment, has been named one of the most scientifically valid self-help books in a study published in Professional Psychology, Research and Practice.

Wrapping up the Vulnerability and Energy Goal

I’m going to wrap things up with the vulnerability and energy goal now.  I’ve given the link to this blog to my two closest friends, though I think only one has actually read it so far.  Her reaction was good and she didn’t feel sorry for me, didn’t try to give me advice, and nothing really changed.  My imagination of the worst occurring and any of those things happening didn’t come true, and I don’t think I made a bad choice in telling her.  She thinks this project is “badass” of me in that I took one of my toughest insecurities and just owned it by exploring my feelings and learning from them.  She said that she feels so honored, blessed, and happy to be my friend, and lucky to have me in her life.  I’m very appreciative of all this and think it’s really nice to be completely accepted and loved when you show the real you and can just be yourself with someone.

I’ve noticed several changes in me since I started this project.  Recently it’s really been apparent that I raise my hand a lot more than I used to, I dress up when I want to, I open up more about sensitive subjects, and I’m just less worried about what others think in general and have a better self-image.

This past weekend at a college orientation class, I asked a lot of questions when others were quiet.  I didn’t feel nervous speaking among the group and I asked my questions with ease and confidence.  I didn’t leave anything uncertain in my head and asked about everything that I wasn’t sure about.  I feel like I see myself as a talkative and confident person now, and see myself as feeling shy only in certain situations.

I’m taking a summer class too, statistics, whoo!  I’m trying to get another big subject out of the way to make things easier for me later on.  On the first day of stats class, I talked to the people around me easily.  It was a breeze and I didn’t feel awkward since I expected positive results.  I noticed that the cousin of a friend was in the class right away and even though I don’t know her well at all we both recognized each other and I opened my arms for a hug.  I sat nearby to her and met her friend, who I think said his name was Crystal.  To greet me he stuck out his hand wrist flexed down as if to show off his nails, and I wasn’t sure what to do so I just did it back and we laughed and he said hey girrrl in the a soft sweet voice.  I asked the younger teenage girl next to me if she was added into the class already and about the textbook (easy conversation starter for a class), and she sort of answered me in a really low voice that I couldn’t hear and she went back to whispering with her friend and giggling.  I got the vibe that she thought I was weird for trying to talk to her and didn’t want to talk.  Oh well, I tried.  Then a lady probably in her 30s sat down next to me, and I decided to try talking to her instead and asked her similar questions.  She was friendly and talked back fully to me and I’d say we got along well.  I liked her and she had a good, friendly vibe.

The teacher has been great, he is actually really young and has a thick Chinese accent.  He is delightfully geeky and has a great sense of humor; I could definitely see him as being a cartoon character in “Futurama” or something. He is very good at making everything very clear too and goes over several examples until there is no doubt that you understand what he is trying to teach.  He makes everything funny and memorable whenever he can too.  I heard that he’s even got a Ph. D in statistics, so I’m very glad that I was able to add his class and learn from him!

I’ve been working on some multiple goals at once lately as some things have taken longer than I expected.  I’m trying to get involved in a speaking group called Toastmasters but it’s taking longer than I thought to join and it’s only once a week so I won’t be able to write about it that much for a little while.  I’ve also been doing a ton of exercise and have been trying to eat healthy. (There is hardly any junk food in the house and I haven’t baked cookies in a long time, though I might cave in soon!)  I’ve been driving on my own too to get to my stats class and have been taking walks by myself sometimes when I have the time. I can write about those things in more detail soon, sorry I’ve not been the most active blogger lately. It gets harder to blog when you get really busy in the summer!  Thanks for reading!

Kicking off the Summer with Camping on the Beach

Last Wednesday I went camping at a beach for a few days with three friends. I’m closest with Annie, and have recently gotten closer with Emily and am getting to know Alice better. Originally I didn’t know if I was going to go on this trip or not, as I wasn’t sure who was going and how I would fit in with the group.  Would I be the fifth wheel?  Would I have a good time? Should I go or should I just stay in my comfort zone and turn down the opportunity?

I decided to go. It was a last minute decision made the weekend before and I was nervous but excited to be able to share this experience with them and to be included in the group. They’re all really close friends who have been in the same group since freshman year and beyond, while I’ve only gotten to know Emily this year and Alice not much at all, though I’ve known Annie since freshman year.

And I’m glad I went. I think this trip brought us all a lot closer and we learned that we’re very compatible living together.  If we can spend a few days together without our normal routine of having cozy beds, showers, and general comfort and not get annoyed with each other I’d say that’s a pretty good sign of lasting friendships. None of us got cranky; everyone was happy and the mornings were always pleasant as we exchanged smiles and good mornings. We laughed a lot and showed our silly sides. We opened up about some things.  We had a great experience together.

We roasted s’mores every night and various other foods that we wanted to observe the reaction of.  We took long walks on the beach at night when no one was out and it was completely secluded. During the days we would enjoy the beautiful warm sunny days on the beach and hike around the breath-taking area.

We frequently played a story game that is one of Emily’s favorite games.  The game involved giving a person three words that they have to use to make up a story.  There were stories about cats and castles, a flag man and a boat man, outcasted clams, three blind mice, pirate’s booty, a house of chocolate, a pumpkin man and egrets, and some other funny or happy or sad stories.  To be honest, the game made me a little nervous and uncomfortable at first because I didn’t know if I would be able to come up with anything like my friends were coming up with.  I didn’t know if I could make up a good or funny story on the spot like that.  But I gave it a shot and I surprised myself in that I was able to come up with some good stories.  The stories became the subject of many of our jokes and later on our drawings in the sand, and I was glad we had done that in the end.

One uncomfortable moment for me was when Alice randomly asked if I was ever loud.  I asked her to repeat that because I wasn’t sure if she’d said what I thought she said, but she asked again and I heard right.  She asked if I ever “yell and stuff”.  I didn’t know what to say and I was disappointed that she asked me that, but it wasn’t the first time she had said something like that to me before so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Emily said that she was sure I could if I wanted, and Annie said that’s rude.   One benefit of telling someone your biggest insecurity is that they know when something’s hurt you and that you’re sensitive about it.  (I told Annie about this blog too, and she told me that she’s read every post.)  I appreciated her sticking up for me.  Alice asked me if that was rude and I couldn’t say much without getting emotional so I just sort of tilted my head as if to say “Well yeah…”.  She said I guess you could ask me if I’m ever quiet, and then she and Emily laughed and said only when she’s studying or asleep.  The question affected me more than it should have by now, but I tried to dismiss it and move on.  I learned more about Alice on this trip and we became better friends all in all, and I didn’t want to let a little comment diminish any of that.

On our full day of the trip we headed out for the nearest town that was 2 miles away.  It felt like a much longer walk than 2 miles though and I think it must have been longer.  We had to walk along the side of the highway so it wasn’t the easiest walk since we had to walk in single file sometimes and be careful.  We could have driven but we figured it would be more fun to walk.  One car honked at us, and another car drove past and a guy flirtatiously hollered “What’s up ladies!”, which made Emily and I laugh.  When we got to town, we noticed that it was a really small town, and that everybody knew everybody here.  We were obviously not from around here, but everyone was very friendly to us.  We met two friendly drunk guys in one of the food places who started talking to us after Emily read off her Snapple cap to Alice that said that the tongue was the strongest muscle in the body.  Alice talked to them a lot and faked a British accent for the heck of it, and it was amusing seeing the guys try to do one back.  She seemed very comfortable talking with them and I was impressed.

After we got back to camp, we decided to go walk along the beach.  Alice was tired so she went to sleep in the tent while Annie, Emily, and I headed over to the beach.  We probably walked at least 5 miles earlier so we were all feeling some soreness in our legs and ankles.  This day on the beach though, was probably my favorite part of the trip personally.  It was without a doubt a perfect day, and the scenery was amazing.  It was so warm and the sand was so soft and inviting.

Earlier in the day I had decided that I was really going to try and live in the moment today and just have fun and be silly.  In this moment, I truly felt happy and content with my life.  I was so happy to be with Annie and Emily on this perfect day in this beautiful weather on this gorgeous beach.  I just wanted to hug them tightly and tell them how much I love them and what they mean to me, but instead of being cheesy I decided to jump on them and wrap my arms around them.  They picked up my legs and carried me to the water and we were laughing and it was fun.

We took some funny pictures and did some funny poses.  I wrote “booty” in the sand with my toe because I felt like it and that word came to be known as something that reminds the others of me because I used it for fun a lot.  I saw a seagull all by himself and I randomly told Annie and Emily that he was Spencer the single seagull.  I told them how the other seagulls had outcasted him and how he couldn’t get a date.  When we walked by a group of seagulls and Emily said they were cute, I jokingly  scolded her and told her not to be nice to them.   We were supposed to give them attitude because they had outcasted Spencer!  She laughed and said “you’re a nut Brittany, a loveable nut” which made me laugh.  I’m happy to be called a nut because that means that my silly side showed and I’m glad it showed.  Some people get the impression that I am serious and I am not really serious or proper or anything like that, I’m actually really silly when I’m with the right people.  They said I could be a Seagull Whisperer and interpret for seagulls or something.

On the last night it was unbearably freezing and the wind was out of control.  We shivered and retreated to the car as we contemplated spending the out of nowhere bitterly cold night in the tents.  But we slept in the tents and it wasn’t so bad after a while.  The next morning we woke up and packed everything together.  We made one last visit to the beach where I did a humorous sand drawing for Annie and she did one back, and then Emily and Alice did one and it was a lot of fun.

The car ride back was fun too.  Annie and I danced around in our seats and did some arm aerobic type stuff and some silly moves like flipping the pizza and mowing the lawn.  We danced to a country song by doing a lasso type arm movement, and tapped our knees with our hands and hit each others knees which then turned into a friendly fight and we whapped each other playfully with our palms.  We crashed into each other on sharp turns a couple of times too, and I got trapped by her arms a couple of times, and it was fun and we laughed a lot.  We stopped at Inn N Out, and it was good even though I wasn’t really hungry and couldn’t eat much.  We got home at around 11am or noon I think, and it was a beautiful day.  We all hugged and said our goodbyes, and later on when I saw all the pictures, I couldn’t stop smiling.  They were some of the best pictures we’d had together, and it was an experience that I’ll never forget and will always cherish.  This summer has proved to be a blast so far, and I’m excited for more adventures to come!  I hope all of you are enjoying your summer too!

Graduation Day and Grad Night

Graduation Day was last Saturday and it went well despite the downpour of rain all day. It was the first time it had rained on graduation day in a long time, 100 years maybe? Either that or it had never happened before, I can’t remember. This meant we could only bring 4 people, which upset many people and made me worried as well, but luckily I was able to get some extra tickets from a friend who didn’t need all hers.

I took pictures with friends before the ceremony and it was fun seeing everyone dressed in their blue gowns and caps. The ceremony wasn’t too long and I wasn’t too nervous during it. We listened to a few speeches and listened to some of our classmates perform our senior song, and then we went row by row to get our diplomas (really just empty folders). My heart started beating a little faster as it came closer to my turn to go up to the podium, but when I was actually near the podium, I didn’t feel any nervousness at all strangely. I shook hands with my right and received the folder with my left and smiled for some pictures. I was in the last row so after I and a few others went, the ceremony was over and caps went flying in the air.

At night, I got picked up by my friend Sue who was going to take us to Grad Night. As we walked into the school, I felt like we were in a totally different, happier place. It was like we were in a theme park, not a high school. Luckily the rain had stopped by now so all the outside decorations and activities weren’t ruined. Sue and I played some carnival games first, and then we did this bungee jumping thing where you can do flips on a big trampoline. I didn’t really want to do it honestly and the mere thought of it made me nervous, but Sue really wanted to so I agreed. We waited for a while, and I got more nervous as time wore on. More people came in line with us that we knew and we started talking to them, and it was good to see them but at the same time that meant more people would be watching me when it was my turn. Finally it was Sue’s turn and she jumped up and down a couple of times though she wasn’t able to do any flips. It was my turn then and I managed to do some flips and it was a little scary because I really had to throw my feet over my head and I didn’t always land the best. I felt really dizzy afterward but I was glad that I faced my fear. I thought of the experience as being symbolic for facing more fears to come and doing things that I might otherwise regret not doing when I’m hesitant. I’m trying to live up to my senior quote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do…Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

Later on in the night we found Annie, Ashleia, and Emily, and we stuck together the rest of the night. I raced Ashleia in an inflatable obstacle course twice and it was a lot of fun and we crashed on top of each other at the end and got all tangled up. The second time we started pulling each other down as we were climbing the inflatable rock wall and we laughed a lot. A group of us later raced each other on motorized toilets in a little race course that was set up, and that was fun even though they were kind of hard to control sometimes. I also did this inflatable jousting battle with Sue and I was victorious. We sang karaoke as a group, and I was happy that they all finally agreed to my suggestion of singing “Man I Feel Like a Woman”! We also played a couple of rounds of bingo and most of my friends won boxer shorts that they wore over their jeans.

Near the end we got our fortune told, and the lady was sort of accurate and sort of not. I’m not sure if I believe her or not, she did get some things right but other things were really off. After that it was time for the hypnotist show, which was crazy and had me laughing so much and I couldn’t believe what was happening. The guy would make people fall asleep just by jerking their hand or telling them to look here then there. Some of the things didn’t work, but a majority did and it was really funny to see people you’d never expect acting the way they did. The best part was when he told the guys that they were female lingerie models and had them walk the runway and strut their stuff. A lot of the guys got really into it, even the ones you’d never expect. Other than that he had them react to all sorts of things like different beliefs about who they were or what the temperature was and what not.

Afterward we all hugged and said goodbyes, and some people started crying. It was a really fun way to end high school, and it was a great night. On the car ride home with Sue it finally hit me that I was never coming back to this place and that our class and friends would never be together like this again. Sue couldn’t believe I was crying but the tears were indeed rolling down my face as I thought about it. We’re all going our separate ways; we’re not going to have each other around like this anymore. I’m going to miss people, especially those who I got closer with this year. But at the same time, it’s time for bigger and better things. Like Hook said, the world is now my oyster, and it’s time for a new beginning. I won’t lose the close friendships I’ve made and it’s not the end. High school was a good experience overall, and I hope college will be fun too. I’ve heard that it’s better than high school, so I’m excited. What was it like for you to finish high school and start college if you did? How did things change?

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Opening up about Myself

Over the weekend I wrote a very open, honest, and confiding email in response to a close friend.  It took a while to write, and I was nervous about sending it and I had to reread it a lot.  I was nervous about what I was saying and how it would be received, and even nervous to check my email for the response. I wrote about how I missed her and wanted to talk to her more but that I don’t talk openly in most groups and that when it comes to honest and personal conversations I’m a one-on-one kind of talker.  She opened up about something and I told her what I admire about her- her confidence, enthusiasm, humor, and how she is so fun and can draw people into her and be so open with so many people.  It turned out to be a really long email even though I could have easily made that email less personal and shorter.  But I wanted to open up to her so she could see more of the real me, not just the surface me.

After a very good response (phew!) I wrote back again, and told her about some other things that she probably didn’t know about that seemed ok on the surface.  I told her about my conversation about how my biggest insecurity is my shyness and how tired I am of being called shy or quiet after having been told that my entire life.  And again, I got a really good response and I was really relieved and happy.  She even told me that she doesn’t think that I’m shy or quiet AT ALL!  I couldn’t believe it!  I think that’s the first time someone’s ever told me that they don’t think I’m shy or quiet, and she’s a very extroverted person too!  I’ve heard so many shy or quiet remarks about me over the years that I thought it was painfully obvious that I’m shy, and that no one could ever not think that about me or I’d ever be able to escape that label.  But hearing that she thought that was an incredible feeling.  I felt like a heavy armored suit had been lifted off me, and I felt a new sense of confidence.  It’s not that being shy or quiet is a bad thing, it’s just when you’ve been told that you’re something all this time it really starts to creep into your identity.  Maybe it isn’t as obvious as I thought, and isn’t as much of my identity as I think it is.  When I saw her in person we were both really happy to see each other and hugged each other tightly.

I never knew opening up could feel so good.  I’m putting myself out there and making myself vulnerable, and it’s actually turned out to be a really good thing and I feel so much closer to her now.  We were hanging out less and less as the year was ending and I was kind of worried we might lose touch.  But now I think being so honest with each other has brought us even closer than before, and I am so happy about that.

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