Monday, May 18, 2009

Getting It Done Without Self Consciousness

I'm finishing up a trip to NYC at the moment. I've had a wonderful few days visiting friends and enjoying this bustling city.

I took a train up to Connecticut on Sunday to spend the day with a good friend. I returned late Sunday evening to NYC. When I got on the train in Westport Connecticut, I found that the car I entered was already pretty full of passengers. I was planning to have a personal phone call on my ride back to the city, and wanted to have a double seat to myself. That was not possible in the car I had entered. All the rows had at least one person sitting in them already.

The train left the station, and I was standing there wondering where I would sit!

I am not a commuter train expert. I've only taken trains out of NYC about a half dozen times in my life. I wondered if I could safely move between the cars while the train was moving.

In my life, I have always had discomfort 'appearing foolish' or 'ignorant.' I don't like to 'not know' things, or to have to ask people for help. This is not a healthy trait. I often will suffer in silence, or experience great anxiety before I simply ask a stranger to help me. I feel very self conscious about asking for help, especially from people I don't know.

Tonight, I noticed a shift in my feelings about this. I had absolutely no apprehension about walking up to a woman on the train and asking, "Is it safe to go from car to car when the train is moving?" She smiled at my 'newbie-ness' and said, "Of course it is!" I thanked her, flung open the door, and walked to the next car. I had to go 5 cars towards the back of the train before I found an open seat. I got exactly what I wanted: a row with two seats to myself, and I was facing the direction the train was moving. (I get a little motion sick if I'm facing away from the direction we're moving, and some seats are oriented that way).

It seems like such a simple thing, but there is a time in my life when I would not have been able to ask that question. I would have sat down beside someone else and ridden the entire journey in less comfort. I would not have been able to make my phone call. I would have not had the experience that I wanted to have. All because of being too embarrassed to ask a simple, possibly silly question.

I realized in this experience, that I've come a long way in overcoming some of my self consciousness. I'm getting more comfortable with 'not knowing' and with asking for help. I consider these to both be positive and healthy changes.

Are there things that you hesitate to do in front of other people because you're too embarrassed or self conscious? Are you uncomfortable asking for help? Will you not dance in front of other people? Do you have trouble asking people on airplanes to get up so that you can go to the restroom? Do you hesitate to ask sales clerks for help? If you have any of these hang ups, I encourage you to gently lean into them. Start with the things that least bother you and start doing them repeatedly. You'll work your way up to larger and more important tasks.

It is quite liberating to no longer allow embarrassment or discomfort to alter the way that we live our lives!

Let's stop worrying about embarrassing ourselves and start living fully!