Once -- over Christmas Dinner, I think it was -- one of my nieces mentioned that she thought I was extroverted.
Now that's funny. I am a walking mass of anxiety where dealing with other people is concerned. Shy. Terrified, even. I was quick to set her straight: “No way! I’m loud, sure, but there’s a difference!”
I’m actually the kind of person who dreads calling to order a pizza or make a haircut appointment.
I hate to make doctor appointments for the kids.
Making new friends? Hanging out in a crowd of people I don’t already know? Fuggetaboutit!
When I was a kid, my mom showed very little sympathy for my dread. “Just tell ‘em you’re Gert Loplitz,” she’d tell me with a wink. I hoped it was just a "kid" thing: The adults around me all seemed pretty comfortable and together. I guess I expected that somehow, when I became an adult, the day would come when I'd magically be able to take command of the social graces, and sally forth without the least bit of anxiety or discomfort.
I'm still waiting for that day.
My husband rolls his eyes at my hesitation. “Fine, gimme the phone, Gert,” he’ll say.
I’m so misunderstood!
The truth is, I’m scared to death of being judged unworthy by other people. Now, you may question why it is I care what the kid at the pizza joint thinks of me one way or the other; but in general, I have to admit this feeling runs pretty deep. Anytime I say something to another human being – especially one I don’t know well -- I fear that this time, I really blew it. I said the wrong thing. I did the wrong thing. I am the wrong thing.
Did you know that I break out in a cold sweat every time I hit the publish button on my own blog? It’s waaaaay worse when I leave a comment on someone else's blog, though I try to anyway (I know how much it means to get them, after all!) (Hint, hint) :)
My sister Noreen, at Sufficiently Radical, wrote a post recently called Hidden Talents. In it, she praised the rest of our family for being smarter, better and more talented than she thinks she could ever be. We’ll set aside for a moment my amazement that she could hold such a fact-challenged notion of her own comparative worth: She’s a writer of amazing talent, is exceptionally thoughtful of others, has a natural gift for event planning and fundraising, is both funny and wise, and is a “people person” of the sort I could only dream of being – and that’s just for starters. I guess she thinks that getting good grades in school and being able to play the guitar at a very elementary level somehow beats those things out. One thing’s certain, though: I was always louder.
I haven’t been blogging much lately. The main reason is that, honestly … I look at what other people write and do and talk about, and I find that I come up way too short. I begin to question if I really have anything to offer, after all. I really don’t do anything terribly unique or special in our homeschool – other than tailoring it to the unique needs of my own kids, of course -- and most of the time I feel like I don’t do nearly enough. I’ve considered writing more about personal struggles – with homeschooling, yes, but also about things like weight and dieting -- but … well, that would entail letting people “in” in a more personal way, and you’d have everything you needed to … judge me.
I once had an elderly friend who liked to say, “What other people think of you is none of your business!” Of course, I reserve to myself the right to form my own opinions about others. But I rarely tell anyone about that. Because I know you’d think less of me if you knew the extent of my own sarcasm, sharp wit, impatience and self-righteousness! (No, Chief & my sisters, I’m obviously not including the way I talk to you!! Think what you will: You’re stuck with me.) :)
(Notwithstanding the likelihood that at any given moment, no one is thinking of me at all. You, nor the pizza kid. I don’t get no respect.)
Anyway, my sister, inspired by the Happiness Project, is challenging herself to do ten things this year that she’s been afraid to do and/or has never done before. I can’t even [gasp!] make a list! But if I did, taking a chance on letting people see more of who I really am might be on it; and this space could be a good place to try it on for size.
I’ll just sign those posts, “Guest-written by Gert Loplitz.”