I sat in front of my Uber app for at least 10 minutes trying to decide what car to book. Tonight was different, I was feeling less-than, irrelevant and clearly needing to feel differently in order to show up at this party. I chose a premium car… for no real reason other than I felt self-conscious and nervous and figured paying for a premium car meant they would have patience in case I need to turn around, make a pit stop, etc, etc, etc.
The anxiety was coming in hot.
I texted my friend who I coordinated with to arrive at the same time I would — to ensure she would get in and ultimately, I wouldn’t have to walk in alone. Let’s give some back story. Remember those control issues we’d talked about? One of those things include knowing the layout of any party/event/soiree/etc, knowing who will be there and who I’ll know, coordinating +1’s and making sure I’m on whatever list or RSVP I needed to, knowing if I’m overdressed or underdressed (I always aim for over, always), and making sure that I have an exit strategy in case all goes bust.
It can be exhausting to ultimately avoid being embarrassed at any given moment.
But mind you, I can work a room no problem. You would never actually know that I am terrified inside, that I’m feeling absolutely anxious, overwhelmed and also, sweating through whatever fabrics I chose to don that day. Tonight, it was a thrifted blazer + dress combo. The dry-cleaning bill wouldn’t be that bad, I figured.
Back to the Uber, we go. The driver picks me up and I’m giving my friend a play-by-play as we drive onward to the party. I’m about 22 minutes out and I want to make sure we’re arriving on time. My driver was going at a mildly slow speed, yet we were going to arrive sooner than I anticipated. I’m feverishly texted my friend before we pull up, that I’ve arrived and hoped she was there. There was a line of cars for the valet and figured this was perfect, a way to delay my entry. He ends up pulling off to the side to drop me off and my stomach drops. I have to get out of the car. So, I ask him…
“Can you wait six minutes?”
Six, whole minutes, I’m waiting in this overpriced vehicle ride because I’m panicking about walking inside alone. For fear, for insecurity, for thinking all these terrible things about myself and why I didn’t belong there and everything that stopped me from just exiting the car, it was an exhausting six minutes. After feeling embarrassed about waiting, I thank the Uber driver and pop out of the car. Behind his tinted windows, I adjust my dress, drape my blazer over my shoulders, make sure each heel doesn’t have any broken vibes and that I have my phone. Cool, check, we’re ready.
I strut, with all the confidence I can, to the table, say my name and let them know my guest is coming shortly. They notified me it was not an issue and she could come in with my name, no problem. I breathe a little and stare at the entrance with a full pomp-and-circumstance situation in front and I’m actively trying to figure out how to get around this. And at that moment, two friends were right at the door. I breathe a little, let down my overconfidence and hug them both. They were part of the women being celebrated that night, so I scurry quickly past the carpet and cameras because God forbid I be present on a step-and-repeat that no one gives a shit that I’m on. The confidence or lack thereof was real.
From the moment of entry, I did what I do, I worked the room, ran into friends, hugged all these humans, made new friends and left when the lights came on. That is usually how each and every night goes for me when it comes to leaving my house and having to be in rooms of importance — I am fearful and anxious beyond belief and yet, the moment I walk in and find a comfort like a familiar face or a glass of wine, I am back to my real me, the happy + “excited to be here” me.
The anxiousness to this degree is new for me. It came from reclusing for twelve months, refusing to be around people, and focusing on myself. But, it turned me into this person who I’m unfamiliar with. That kind of fear that happened in that Uber is not like me. And it caught me off guard when I came home that night and realized,
this was one of the first nights I was back out there, being a person.
I haven’t been a person in a very long time, without the security blanket of my home, or being around my closest friends. This was being in a room full of incredible, impactful, “getting shit done” people, and I felt like who was I to step in here? What had I done? And that kind of talk is what got me into reclusiveness, to begin with.
And I wanted to share this blimp of a moment in my life because it came my way like a reality check, to remind me that being around people is what I enjoy, being in community in all sorts of rooms of importance, is valuable to me, and feeling confident to be a person and show up and support and root on. It’s a reminder to myself that kind of fear can be immobilizing and that isn’t what this year is going to be about. I didn’t spend a year away to come back a weaker person.
So, Future Christina, I hope you’re reading this and recalling that moment, realizing that you’ve made it so far from this, you’re bigger than your anxiety and stronger than your fears.
You must realize that when you defend yourself, you are really defending your walls. There is nothing else to defend in there. There is just your awareness of being and the limited house you built to live in. What you are defending is the house you built to protect yourself. You are hiding inside.
We decorate our walls with the memories of our past experiences and with our dreams of the future. In other words, we decorate them with thoughts. You can step outside your house of thoughts into the unlimited. Your awareness can expand to encompass vast space instead of the limited space in which you dwell. Then, when you look back at that little house you built, you will wonder why you were ever in there.
Imagine the walls crumbling down, and the effortless release of consciousness expanding into the brilliance of what is and always was. Now give that experience a name — enlightenment.
— The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer