It strikes early - this monster called self-consciousness - and it never does leave one alone. We’re fairly easy to spot - that lady who can string a decent enough tune yet is unable to sing in company, that man at the party with a formal smile on his face, the young girl fiddling with her phone as she waits for her friends - yeah they're the ones.
I've been there, done all of that. I'm still there, in part at least.
If you're one of the other lot - that self-assured breed - you cannot even begin to imagine what we have to put up with. When you're pushing us to do that dance, or sing that song and we're standing tongue-tied and helpless we're not being drama queens, or kings for that matter. It's almost a physical thing - the nasty nit picking in born self critic - that's holding us back. Our brains stop functioning, our throats dry up and our limbs refuse to obey us, deferring instead, to the monster.
We're hating the attention, yet can do nothing except wish the earth opens up and swallows us, which it consistently refuses to do.
And there's more.
1. We get labelled snobbish/moody because we rarely initiate conversations. The truth is we are often dying for someone to talk to us first.
2. Obviously then, we don’t make friends easily. When we do make friends, we're the best kind since we are never presumptuous and tend to be very thoughtful.
3. Our jokes are continuously hijacked by the more vocal members of the group. And we're not even sure we mind.
4. Standing up for our own birthday song is excruciatingly painful so we'll often hide away all of that day.
5. As for photographs, it's always a "No, Thank You". Over time, we perfect the art of skillfully avoiding them or looking carefully casual when the camera does come on but we can never really be casual. And we often hate our snaps.
6. A haircut is an embarrassment. A bad one is a catastrophe.
7. We never believe compliments. Nope we're not being modest, we really don't. We do love them though, who doesn't? But we still don't believe them.
8. Everyone's opinion matters to us - from the nosey neighbour's to a perfect stranger's. Not a great place to be in, I tell you.
9. We dress to fit in, never to stand out. Oh we can be chic and stylish but never flamboyant. 'Understated' is our thing.
10. We stick with the rules simply because that makes it easier to hide away.
A lot of my tribe are great in their chosen fields once they learn to camouflage the monster, which most of us do. We might even trump it for a while, only until we try something new or get into an unfamiliar situation and there it is in all its mocking glory, laughing at us for thinking it gone.
If you're still with me, chances are you are one of my kind. Stick around for my next post where we'll figure out a monster-bashing strategy.
Meanwhile the rest of you self-assured people just be gentle with us, will you? We mean no disrespect but we take time and a HUGE amount of effort to step out of our comfort zones. Don't hurry us, don't harass us. Be patient, we're getting there.