My neighbor holds a weekly “Popsicle night” in the summer. Every Tuesday at 7 p.m., my neighbors come, bring various frozen treats, and sit on the lawn and gab. Until today, I hadn’t been.
Why? I have my excuses. They’re realish.
But mostly, I have a paralyzing fear of social situations.
Not so much once I arrive at the social situation. But the anxiety beforehand is so overwhelming, I typically avoid the whole thing altogether.
So tonight, I took a deep breath (and changed my clothes and put on makeup and perfume and made sure the kids looked decent), and went to popsicle night. And of course, once I got there, I was fine.
About ten minutes into being there, another neighbor–in her pajamas and no makeup–dropped off a box of popsicles, excused the near-naked children in her front yard, and explained she wouldn’t be coming because they hadn’t eaten dinner.
Let me back up. The amazing thing to me is not:
-that it was after 7 p.m. and they hadn’t eaten dinner (story of my life)
-that she was wearing pajamas and no makeup (story of my life)
-or that her kids weren’t dressed (yup, story of my life)
it was that she admitted it.
To the neighbors.
I have no problem confessing to faceless (and often nameless) people online–where you can’t actually witness my personal chaos–that I’m a slacker kind of mom.
But out loud? To people you see in real life, to people that go to church with you, and surely have perfect homes and perfect lives?
That’s seriously awesome.
I’m always so concerned about what others think. I almost ditched popsicle night tonight because the clothes that were still in the dryer that I assumed were dry weren’t, so what was I going to wear? The graying old t-shirt I was wearing? Not.
I hate that we eat dinner so often past “normal” time. I cringe when my kids yell out the door to their brother or sister, “It’s time for dinner!” when it’s 7:30 and I just know the neighbors are judging me for it.
Either my neighbor is seriously okay with what other people think of her or…
This concept is so boggling to me. When I was dating my husband, he stopped by to offer to help me pack up my room when I moved out of my apartment. Eventually I let him in the room but he didn’t realize until after we were married that the mess I was so embarrassed about wasn’t exactly move-related. It just was the state of my room in general.
When I check the mail, I either go really really fast, or check to make sure my neighbors aren’t outside first. Because let’s be honest, it’s noon and I’m probably still wearing pajamas. (My mailbox is on my porch, six inches from the front door. I make the kids get the newspaper.)
Hmm. I’m starting to think I have a serious complex here. Who cares if my neighbors know I’m two steps from everything falling apart at any given day? I mean, they can see my yard. It’s not like they’re totally clueless to the situation, am I right? They know I went from 2 full time kids to 4 full time kids almost literally overnight.
Yes, I avoid my neighbors because I have social anxiety. But how much of it is anxiety, and how much of it is this deluded obsession over what people think of me? Why is it so hard to be myself? Why do I think people even care? How do I let that all go and learn to be as honest with people in real life as I am somehow able to be online?
Ugh. That’s a lot of deep thinking and self-examining. And of course, there are no real answers. Are you anxious to make sure people see you as “perfect?” Or are you able to just let that go and let people see you as you really are?
I think I need another popsicle.
And should my neighbor ever read this… please know you are officially an inspiration to me, and I met no harm in posting this. :)