I distinctly recall a teenage moment:
Me, standing in my room, listening to the teen rock band practicing in the garage a few houses down the street.
Me, super shy, super uncool, super awkward. Me, wanting a social life, wanting to branch out and express myself with other kids, wanting so much more for myself.
I’m sweating. I’m pacing. I’m so nervous, but the drums and the guitars are wafting through my window and into my veins.
“Fuck it!” I keep saying. “Just do it. I’m more than this. I’m more than this. Just DO it.”
Me, strolling down the sidewalk, trying to be nonchalant yet full of energy. I’m just going for a walk, but I’m a cool chick too.
Me, standing in the driveway of the garage band, just hanging out by myself as they’re rocking out. I don’t know what I expected to happen, but I stood there and kind of tapped my foot to the beat.
Someone’s parent comes out and pulls up a folding chair for me. I sit down and awkwardly watch them play.
They’re watching me watching them. I’m sweating from every part of my body.
Finally I realize that if I stayed sitting there until the end of the song, there would be silence and I’d either have to say something, or fidget quietly while immense awkwardness reigns supreme. So I decide to stand up and continue on with my walk while half wanting to die.
“Bye!” one of them calls after me in an amused tone.
I do a loop around the block and arrive back home with the drums still vibrating through the air. I’m back in my room pacing furiously while my mind turns into a gushing volcano.
What did you just do? How dorky was that? You sat there alone, in a chair! They probably think you’re such a weirdo. What the hell did you expect to get out of that? What was the point? Did you just ultimately humiliate yourself? You’re crazy!
It was crazy for little library-dwelling me to go and do that. It was crazy to put myself so far outside of my comfort zone for seemingly no reason.
But then eventually I got it. It made sense.
It was about testing the waters. Not with them, but with myself.
It was about showing myself that I could be more than who I’d been up until that point.
I was capable of doing some “crazy” shit!
I realized that by doing that, I was now a slightly different version of myself.
I had been a scared girl who wanted more from herself. 15 minutes later, I was still a scared girl who wanted more from herself — but I was now the girl that had done something different. I was now the kind of girl who could take scary leaps in the right direction, for no tangible result other than to show herself that she could literally choose to do whatever she wanted.
That prime moment of awkwardness was the gateway to realizing that everything in life is pure choice. It is pure choice how I choose to act. It’s pure choice how I choose to see myself. If I wanted a different life, I just had to start doing things differently.
Since then I’ve continually made many nerve wreaking out-of-character leaps. But each time I came away knowing that I just demonstrated to myself that I was the boss. That I was going to step into the unknown and my old fears had no say in how far I went.
And I’ve come so, so far since I sat sweating in that driveway, and yet again I am currently finding myself on yet another threshold — mentally sweating buckets over making another huge leap in name of my growth and desire for a new life.
But I know it’s just the gateway to the new phase, the new experience.
And now I fully respect that sweating buckets and awkwardness is just part of the path to a more awesome life.