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The Wallflower Mom

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I had one of those super weird uncomfortable situations last Friday night. My Wallflower Mom-ness was in full force as I took my kids to the school carnival, hating every second of it.

Despite being “social” online, actual real life situations are a whole other ballgame for me.

It probably doesn’t make a lot of sense either unless you recognize yourself in this nonsense. And I fully admit that it’s weird as all get out. But this is how I’ve been my entire life.

Confident on the outside, quaking a little on the inside. And looking for the first chance to escape the situation that brought me the discomfort.

“Introverts crave meaning so party chitchat feels like sandpaper to our psyche.” ~ Diane Cameron

My best friend shakes her head at me and gently nudges me to break out of my comfort zone.

But you love crowds! You love big noisy chaos! You love the theme parks! You must be social!

Eh, no. I’m not. Not really. Let’s look at what my comfort zone is.

My comfort zone includes hanging with the masses at Universal or Disney.

It includes venturing into the crowds of Spring Break middle school-palooza in Washington DC.

It includes diving for the discount bargains on Black Friday.

It includes public speaking or sharing a video or Facebook Live.

All of that? I can do. I like to do it. It’s fun for me, and you could even go as far to say I thrive on it.

I’m in the zone there. I’m outside of the zone when things get real.

My comfort zone does not include the more intimate crowds that require being more one on one with folks I don’t know well.

Liiiikkeee… the annual school carnival. Or soccer games, baseball games, swim meets, scout meetings, church functions, etc.

Those are situations where I just don’t feel comfortable in my skin at times.

How bizarre.

The idea of spending time in a space with people I should know, should want to know, or should expect to meet at some point sends my social induced anxiety levels sky high.

I just can’t hang. The discomfort is real and can border on panic at times.

“I think I’m a weird combination of deeply introverted and very daring. I can feel both those things working.” ~ Helen Hunt

I’m that weirdo extrovert/introvert who loves having a lot of friends but rarely wants to spend time with them in person.

Do you have one of those mom friends who thrives in the volunteer gig? One that always seems to have some new project she’s head of or leading the committee for the next big fundraiser?

I have that friend- and I admire the heck out of her.

We’ll call her Amy. (Because that’s her name and I don’t think she minds me bragging a bit on her awesomeness).

Amy loves that crap. I love that there are Amy’s at every school who love this kind of thing. These things that are so not my things- I appreciate that they are someone else’s.

Her school calendar filled with meetings and events that she’s happy to participate or lead. Honestly, I have no idea how that school will survive when her youngest finally moves on to middle school.

“I don’t hate people, I just feel better when they aren’t around.” ~Charles Bukowski

If I had one thing to change about myself, it would be that I could comfortably be in a room full of neighbors and friends and not feel weird.

I’d like to be an Amy.

But a smarter Amy because there’s no way I’d sign up for #allthethings. (Love ya, girl, but lawdy you lead a busy life!).

But maybe #someofthethings could be a good thing to help the school and ultimately my own children. If I could just learn to push past this social angst that I live with.

“Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.” ~ Susan Cain

I’ve gotten better if you can believe it.

I was at a conference last week chatting with tons of people- and participated in real, live conversations.

And get this- I enjoyed it! Huzzah!

But those conversations were also formed after years of carefully laying the groundwork through blogging & Disney-ing to know a little something about these people. So maybe that doesn’t actually count. Ha.

Clearly, there’s some growth that needs to happen. Because right now I’m still the mom who panics when the phone rings and I see the room mom’s number pop up.

Please let me be able to send in a check… please-oh-please-oh-please…

I’m the Wallflower Mom who coasts from school year to school year hoping no one notices me.

I’m the Mom who sends her husband into social settings first and uses the line”gotta check on the kids!” as her excuse not to make small talk.

I’m the Mom who just doesn’t know what to say- even when she spies someone who openly embraces her same passions.

I share all this to say: be kind to the Wallflower Mom. Maybe give us a little grace.

We probably are not snobby or jerks. Probably.

We probably are just really uncomfortable and don’t know what to say that doesn’t make us feel even more awkward and weird.

“Better to keep quiet and let people think you’re an idiot than speak up and confirm it.” ~ Rodney Dangerfield

If you see us checking our phones or hanging by ourselves, don’t feel pity or anger. Maybe we do want someone to make the first move; we are likely ok with a little small talk. But if it gets weird fast, go ahead and back off slowly with kindness.

Or maybe Facebook me? Because you know I’ll answer.

Know we tried, in our own small way; we showed up. For some of us, that’s a battle in itself.

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