When I was four or five, my mom and I moved from an airstream trailer in Enumclaw to a duplex in the Auburn valley. I was excited for the move because it meant my own bed in my own room. But it also meant I would have to face another first day at another new daycare center, and I hated first days.
On this particular first day, I actually peed my pants because I was too shy to ask where the bathroom was. It took all of the courage I had to raise my hand and ask if I could use the bathroom. I was excused from the group, but then I didn't know where to go. And I simply could not work up the nerve to walk back over to the teacher and ask for directions. Instead, I found a quiet corner, peed my pants, and tried to hide there until my mom came to pick me up.
The battle to overcome that shyness has not been easy one. I've had to work at it long and hard but, for the most part, I'm over it. I'm certainly over the dysfunctional part of it, anyway. But sometimes little bits of it wander back in and stomp all over my sensibilities. Like today, at the grocery store. Behold:
I head over to the wall of meat. I'm making a big fat vat of soup, and the recipe calls for boneless beef chuck. I know roughly what this is so I'm feeling pretty confident. But as I approach the wall, the butcher man keeps wandering out from behind the counter, asking embarrassing questions of the customers like, "Can I help you?"
For some reason this terrifies me, and so every time he comes out, I quickly grab whatever package is in front of me so that he thinks I have what I need. It's ridiculous and I have to laugh at myself. But I can't stop myself from doing it.
Eventually I determine that what I need is not in the self-serve case, and that I'm going to have to talk to the butcher. I walk to the counter... and then I walk right past it. I head up the tea aisle instead and actually consider just calling the whole thing off and going home.
But that would be silly.
So, heading back down the next aisle, I give myself a little pep talk. I emerge from the aisle and turn toward the butcher's counter, and I'm ready. I'm gonna do it. But the butcher? He's totally looking at me. So I panic and turn up the frozen foods aisle.
It took me three tries to get my ass over there to ask for my boneless beef chuck. And when I finally did, the transaction went smoothly, just as it always does. Why? Because I'm an adult capable of speaking to someone I don't know. And the butcher is more than capable of doing butchery things like tracking down beef. Still, I walked away feeling like I'd pulled off some fantastical feat.
Someday, I'll remember that I'm not afraid of people anymore. And imagine the soup I'll be able to make then.