I’ve always been shy. This is a trait ingrained in my being and totally beyond my control. God created me shy. Growing up it meant hiding behind my mom’s legs as she talked to friends or waiting for other kids to talk to me in new situations. Or on the first day of 1st grade when my teacher came up and said, “Hi, do you know who I am?” and I ever-so-lightly whispered, “Mrs. Smith.” with my head turned down and my eyes to the floor. “Mrs Smith!” she said loudly and popped me out of my bubble. “Um, isn’t that what I just said?”, I thought, unaware that she didn’t hear me.
One of my first memories was when a friend of my parents (but whom I didn’t know, mind you) came up from behind me and gave me a hug. As if that wasn’t horrifying enough to my shy pre-k self, my hair immediately got stuck in of his vest buttons! (This was at a mid-west Baptist church in the 80s — of course he was wearing a complete, formal brown suit.) There I was stuck with some old guy that I didn’t know like a startled deer caught in a trap. My mom was only a few feet away, but deep in conversation with someone. HORROR! Looking back I wonder why I didn’t yell for help. Not like I should have screamed or anything, just a simple, “Hey Mom!” to get her attention. Stinkin’ shyness. But I just sat there and was horrified to be close enough to smell his starchy clothes, which also had the faint smell of baked beans (he must’ve been in the basement, getting ready for the pot-luck.) The guy chuckled (deep and in slow motion) and tried to get my hair out. I was like the WB roadrunner when it was finally untangled.
As an adult, I don’t think of myself as shy. Most people I know probably don’t see me as “shy”… not really even quiet. But sometimes it can creep up and be – oh, how do I put this nicely – uncomfortable.
One day a few years ago I was helping out at the church office back where we went in AZ. I was cutting or laminating or doing something like that… I stopped to talk to the Office Manager a bit and then the pastor walked in. We said our hello’s and then he said, “Oh, and I heard the news! Wow! That’s so exciting!” (We had just completed our first round of in-vitro and had just found out we were pregnant… the ivf before Drew.)
I was a little caught of guard because I didn’t know he knew… but it wasn’t that big of a deal. For reasons completely unknown to me, I turned bright red. You know that feeling of knowing you’re blushing… but can’t help it… then continue to turn even more red because you know they know you’re blushing? Well, that happened.
“Uh, uh, yeah. Thanks. Um, we’re, ah, excited.” I forced it out in the most unnatural, stuttering way possible. This was bad. Still beet-red, I look back at the Office Manager like, a little help here please? She, unfortunately is giving me a look that resembles one of those curious little Meerkats on Meerkat Manor.
Oh. My. Goodness. This must be even worse than I thought. So naturally, I start to break out into a sweat. We all continue attempting to have a conversation, while pretending it’s not totally awkward… like I’m not stumbling through every. stinking. thing. I. say. And like they’re not totally confused by what is happening.
So, of course, this is when the pastor’s wife walks in because the pastor and his wife are going out to lunch.
Crap. This keeps getting better and better. I can literally feel sweat dripping down my forehead. “Um. Hi.” I say dabbing my face with a Kleenex I had grabbed. I look down and see my hand is shaking and feel it’s clammy.
I look up.
The three of them all look as confused as I feel. They look at me… and then shoot quick glances at each other WHILE WE CONTINUE TO FREAKING TALK! Of course, I just want to run out of the building but, you know, then I would look weird. Can’t have that.
Somehow, and v e r y slowly the conversation comes to an awkward end as the pastor and his wife head out the front door to lunch. (I never loved lunch more than I did that moment.)
Then, I go back to laminating and pray that God will send me overseas…. hopefully before the next Sunday.
So, it is mostly part of my childhood… but yeah… every once in awhile I’m humbly reminded of my shyness.