Considering I’m something of a neurotic, nut-job, whackadoo – there have been many challenges over the years.
I think one of the challenges I’m most grateful I’ve overcome is putting myself “out there.”
Growing up, I was so painfully shy (as in so shy I couldn’t even make eye contact with strangers and went into a full-fledged anxiety attack if someone spoke to me) that I stayed on the fringes of life as much as possible. Although I loved to play basketball, I would never have dreamed of trying out for the team. Someone might have seen me – or talked to me!
There were no 4-H groups I joined, no clubs I actively participated in (unless the school newspaper and yearbook count, but I don’t think they should because you really can stay hidden behind the scenes with both of those), nothing that drew me out of my little shell – except for piano lessons. For eleven painful years, I took piano lessons and worked myself into a fit of near hyperventilation every time there was a recital.
My first two years of college weren’t much better. My junior year, I moved nine hours away from home and into a dorm and the only way to survive was to talk to people. Fortunately, an incredibly funny girl with a huge heart took me under her wing and introduced me to her friends. From there, things got a little easier. I could say hello to people I barely knew, talk to acquaintances over dinner, interact with fellow students at activities.
Then I decided to move several states away for in internship where I knew not a single person in a huge, big city.
I had no choice but to crawl out of my shell and engage with people. And you know what I discovered? That I like talking to people and participating in fun things.
On occasions, I still get myself into something that makes me nearly hyperventilate, but it doesn’t happen too often because I remind myself of that little girl who couldn’t even look a stranger in the eye. She would never have imagined standing in front of a room full of people, talking about a subject she dearly loves. And for that, I’m very grateful.
Have you overcome any personal challenges?