Can You See Me Now?

I hate being vulnerable. People looking at me or watching me makes me cra-zy! Knowing I need to stand up for myself, give a speech, or pray out loud to close Bible study….aaahhh! I can feel my heart start to pound as my blood drains through my body and my palms start to sweat. In my head are thoughts of something in my teeth, my butt being examined by every person in the room, accidentally passing gas even though I know I didn’t mean eat those beans on purpose. Even after I close my mouth and sit down my head still is spinning and screaming inside, “STOP LOOKING AT ME!” I hate it, but I’m gunna do it anyway.

I would much rather be comfortable. Comfortable is well, comfortable. I’m at peace with my own thoughts and my own judgements of myself. I don’t need to worry about what others think of me if I don’t say anything, and I certainly can feel comfortable about my flabby tummy if I know I will not need to get up in front of anyone. No need to show anyone who I really am because they won’t notice me if I’m just sitting here. I can just be me, by myself and be comfortable. But you see, that’s the problem. Being comfortable gets me nowhere- I basically become what I really don’t want to be…… uncomfortable. Allow me to explain.

Let’s take the speech example. In college I had to give many speeches, all in front of people I didn’t know or went to high school with. For me it was a recipe for unending nerves and a stomach full of butterflies. I practiced and practiced for hours, feeling confident and knowing that I would have all the words ready to come out of my mouth come speech time. What never went away were those butterflies. I purposefully volunteered to go 3rd for every speech because the thought of sitting there waiting for my turn was agonizing. Once my turn came I would swallow hard, stand up straight, walk to the front of the classroom ready to throw up, and hope to God no one could hear the pounding of my heart. Then I’d turn to a roomful of eyes and try so hard to concentrate. Not on people’s thoughts, eyes, or boredom, but to the words and the meaning of what I had to say. It was then after all that exhaustive mental work that I realized, I have a voice! An important voice, and my speech about childhood obesity is really good if I do say so myself!

So yes, I could have stayed comfortable. I could have gone last, worried about what all the others thought while mixing up words and saying, “um” every 3 seconds. I could have even opted for another class entirely. But I didn’t. What I did was make myself uncomfortable, to finally feel comfortable- in my own skin. The lesson I learned then is something I’m still teaching myself to this day. I have to make the decision every day to how I want to live my life, comfortable or happily uncomfortable.