Sunday, September 16, 2012

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

I've been stretching a lot lately.

As I've entered into a season of nomad-land for a few months, I've realized that a large portion of my existence will be about meeting new people. I'm not very great a meeting new people. I feel awkward and sweaty and extremely aware of how my 6 years in the middle of nowhere mixed with my frugalness has left my wardrobe outdated and ...well, just different. 

I travel around to various places with my brother and sister-in-law and meet their friends and their own awkward acquaintances. Small talk doesn't usually work well for me in this arena as the first question out of their mouths is typically something along the lines of, 'Hi Debbie! Where's home for you?' 

It's a hard question for me to answer, as a few possible responses run through my head, which leaves me pausing just long enough to make a simple question turn into a hanging, uneasy silence. At this point, my mind switches from thinking about how to answer their question to wondering if they think I'm too much of a moron to be able to answer such a basic personal question...which then makes the process take even longer. It's a viscous cycle. 

After staring at each other for at least 4 seconds, I eventually start off with a clever, 'Well.............' and usually end up with one of the following: no where, I'm currently a nomad, my brother's place, I'm in-between things...

And then, sometimes (if I think they actually might care), I proceed to tell them that while I'm originally from Missouri, I've spent the last 6 years in Texas and now I'm currently spending the fall just traveling around, hopping from brother's house to brother's house (all east coast cities), stopping briefly in the pacific northwest (as if that's on the way) and eventually, hopefully, ending up overseas for a bit of an adventure for a few weeks.  That's all just the fall, though. For the rest of my life, you mean? Ah, that's a whole different question. 

When I said I'm not great at meeting new people, what I really meant was that I don't like meeting new people- especially when I begin every conversation with all the finesse you just read about. For some reason, I become this blundering idiot...the things I think sound great and witty come across as weird and not funny. There's the added on pleasure of meeting single men and not knowing how to be friendly without appearing too friendly, if you know what I mean. 

It's all caused me to wonder a time or two if I've always been like that or, to my greater horror, have my 6 years in isolation from the 'real world' turned me into being *gasp* socially awkward?! I hope not... 

All that to say, it's been good for me. I'm placed in uncomfortable situation after uncomfortable situation and instead of the sweaty pits that accompanied me a week ago, I have a new outlook on it. Instead of feeling like I'm being 'dragged' along, I find myself accepting the challenge of getting to know the random details of the people I'm now interacting with, of accepting the unknown of each circumstance and embracing the adventure that accompanies it. 

When I ease up and stop letting my insecurities/fears be crippling, I'm able to throw horseshoes with a group of doctors, play volleyball with MBA students, do crafts with a bunch of married/engaged women, drink coffee with international students, watch Florida beat Tennessee with kind souls... and have some really sweet conversations in the meantime. 

You already know by now that I'm a person who gets too comfortable, a person who is too easily scared of what I don't know. I don't really have an the option of staying within my comfort zone anymore though...and I don't even want to. 

At camp we followed the model below: 

We wanted campers to be out of their comfort zone and into their stretch zone, because that's when true learning and true change could happen. I think it's the same for us, only we very rarely have 2 camp counselors urging us out of our comfortable ways. 

I know I'm just a written voice in a little box, an unknown distance from where you currently sit... but I want to challenge you to evaluate where you're at in within these concentric circles. Are you living your entire life in the comfort zone? Or are you doing things that are maybe a bit uncomfortable, a bit scary, a bit unknown... are you stretching yourself? And if you're in the panic zone, we can talk later. 

Do something different today. Do something that's not typically 'you'. 
You may even discover that you like doing something you didn't think you did. It happened to me. I kind of think I might actually enjoy meeting new people. 

Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes. 
And perhaps you might spur others to step out of their comfort zones in the process, too. 
Perhaps change is essential and we won't ever get there unless we're willing. 

So, go, stretch. Get down and break a sweat. 
You ain't seen nothing yet. 

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1 comment:

  1. Whew. I can say with honesty that I have spent the majority of time in the stretch zone in the last month, and most of the time not in it has been in panic zone.

    And man, I know just how you feel. I experienced these things when I came back to Truman from Walkabout... I didn't know how to interact with people for a long time. It happens.

    Something God has put on my heart today: Even when things are hard, God still does great things and makes it all worth it. I've realized at this point that my life will probably never be easy because God has called me to do so many hard things... but as I was thinking about all the greatest most glorious times in my life.. (mostly at camp) I think about how hard it was and how much I hated most of it. Yep, I hated Walkabout for months. I disliked many things about this summer, but I know that those times have never been so blessed by the Lord.

    Praying that for you. :)