Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Butterflies


 For as long as I can remember I've been the "shy" girl. For many years the "painfully shy" girl; painful to me and most likely painful to those close to me to watch.

Clinging to my mom's legs the first day of preschool...I remember...the teachers untangling my arms and legs that were wrapped like a pretzel around my mom. The screams, the cries, the pleading. The hot tears streaming down my reddened face; my long, golden hair sticking to my tear-stained cheeks.

I didn't want to be left.

I feared I would never be picked up.

And so it went the first day of something new; new schools; new babysitter; new Sunday School class.

My fear was so powerful it choked my throat; allowing no words to be spoken.

I don't know what people thought of me. I think some were annoyed by me; some thought I was a tag-along-pain who could never be left alone without a family member present. The "she's shy" excuses whispered over my head thinking my ears couldn't hear them.

And then, in the 3rd grade, I made a friend. And things weren't quite so painful anymore.

By the 5th grade I had lots of friends. Friends I passed notes to, and invited me to their house for sleep-overs. Friends who thought I was someone special; friends who saved seats for me so we could eat lunch together.

The 10th grade brought another new school; quadruple the size of my old one. I tried to fit in; and in the process lost who I was. I tried to blend in; but the walls wouldn't have it. I tried to cheerlead my way in; but wasn't so peppy. I tried to dance my way in; but was too uncoordinated. My old clarinet gathered dust; I didn't want to join the band.

And then I remembered...the one thing I could do was run. And so it went, I joined the track team. A TEAM...I was a part of a TEAM; something much larger than just me. My teammates cheered me on, and I did the same for them.

Today...I'm still socially awkward; physically clumsy. But I can carry on a conversation without embarrassing myself. New things still make me anxious; big group settings still aren't my thing. But when I force myself to strike up a conversation; I'm hardly ever disappointed.

The ugly little caterpillar is still trying to break out of her cocoon; but I know in time the social butterfly in me is going to fly free.