April 2, 2015 – 1:32 am, Harlem
I forgot one minor detail in the early days of New York. After the Rugged Airport Guy and I shared our train ride from Jersey to New York, I got to thinking…why was I so nervous around him, so surprised he was talking to me? As my former boss used to say, what “story” was I telling myself about him, about me? I realized the story wasn’t exactly a positive one. Something along the lines of: HIM=fantastic. ME=…? There’s a perceived differential that makes me pretty uneasy and want to withdraw.
But I’m reminded of another story, (one that actually happened, not the kind we make up in our heads) that my friend B. told me last year (hopefully I remember the key points):
B. was rather socially uncomfortable growing up, and as such, he never cared for that pinnacle of the childhood social scene, the birthday party. One year, (maybe 8 or 10 years old?) he got up the nerve to host his own party and surround himself with peers, which for a socially anxious boy, is a BIG deal. But, once the party was underway, he quickly regretted the decision. Uncomfortable and feeling like an outsider, he hid himself away, too scared that they’d reject him, perhaps as if to prove once and for all that he was just as uncool as he feared he was.
But B’s mom found him, all alone.
B, she said lovingly, once she realized what was happening… If someone’s going to reject you, they’ll reject you. But why go and do the rejecting for them? Don’t be the one to count yourself out.
So he went back to his party, and his friends just treated him like, well – a friend. And fast forward twenty-something years, and he grew up to be such a fine person with a phenomenal circle of long-time friends and an equally phenomenal, adoring wife.
Don’t be the one to count yourself out.
But, as you may know, it can feel quite a bit safer to count yourself out sometimes. Sometimes there’s that little voice that says we’re not whatever enough, and sometimes we agree, and figure it’s best to just throw in the towel before that fear gets confirmed. But if you play this out, isn’t it a little crazy to think of what we might be missing out on – things we don’t try and risks we don’t take because we’re afraid we might not be good enough, afraid of being rejected?
Reflecting on Rugged Airport Guy, I’m remembering a somewhat similar situation eight years earlier:
He was smart. Kind of an exotic tall, dark and handsome type. A little older. And I decided he was simply too cool for me – as a friend, or more. But oddly, all of a sudden now I felt like I had a little unfinished business with him. Maybe more so with myself. So out of the blue, I wrote him this Facebook message, knowing that at worst, I might seem a little creepy but at least I’d get to pay him a compliment:
Hey (Tall Dark Handsome College Guy)! We went to school together at APU and I just had to follow up on a really random memory of you from way back when –
I think it was my junior year, we had a class together and were working on a group project, and you invited me to come see a show with you. (I said I couldn’t go.) I’m guessing you didn’t know this at the time, but basically, my friends who knew you and I thought you were so cute…that I was way too nervous to actually hang out with you. 🙂 I’m sure I missed out! But the memory came to mind recently, so I just wanted to pass on the compliment. Hope you are well and really enjoying life post-APU.
Take care! ~Megan**
When I sent it, I honestly didn’t care if he responded. I thought it might be simpler if he didn’t. My goal was simple – I wanted to pay him a compliment while owning up to the fact that I was too scared to take a little risk. Because it just felt safer to count myself out.
So at 1:30ish am, while I couldn’t sleep, I decided to put myself out there, not expecting anything back but hoping I might get a little braver by doing it.
B’s mom was on to something.
**Right now, re-reading that Facebook message, I’m dismayed to see that my syntax might have muddled the entire point:
See the line: “basically, my friends who knew you and I thought you were so cute…”
Hopefully this reads like:
“(my friends who knew you) and I thought you were so cute” = You’re so cute that not only I thought this, but my friends who knew you thought so as well. I hope you feel very complimented and affirmed.
and NOT: “my friends who knew YOU AND I thought you were so cute.” Because why would I write to someone 8 years later to tell him that my friends knew us and thought he’s cute?? And that they’re thinking he’s cute somehow made me nervous to hang out with him?? This doesn’t make much sense and sounds considerably weirder and creepier.
Oh well. 🙂