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being an introvert

adventures in adulthood, being an introvert

F – R – E – E

I’m not crazy about couponing.  I tried that a few years back but the successful money saving algorithm escaped my methods.  My efforts turned into spending more than saving so I ditched the lists that led me all over town.

For some reason I still cut out some of the coupons that come in the mail, but I rarely get around to using them.  I have even tried keeping them in my wallet, but they always get neglected and put in their final recycle bin resting place a year after expiration.  Maybe my subconscious is hoping that I will become a responsible functioning adult someday.  Apparently, those money-savers are tickets to grown-up success.  If only I could figure out how to make them work.  There must be a secret button that turns them on.

The only ones I get around to using are the shiny little papers that have F-R-E-E boldly printed on the front.  I’m not talking about buy-one-get-one free or spend $100 to get something free.  I’m no sucker.  I learned my lesson earlier.  The man won’t get me with his tricky ploys.  The ones I like are just free.  No strings attached.  Free and clear of manipulative wizardry.

Where do these coupons exist, you might ask.  This magic comes in the form of a little cardboard card with a scantily clad, photoshopped 20-something on the front.  Normally, this model robot, who we all know isn’t real, is staring off at something in the corner of the room.  I have no freaking idea what she’s staring at, but whatever this robot is doing works.  Victoria Secret is trying to be meek and alluring at the same time, but we all know her cute little smirk says, “YES! YOU CAN HAVE ONE.  YOU GET A FREE PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!!!”

The execs at VS are geniuses because this little card gets me into their store every. single. time.  Never mind most of the free products end up wadded up and thrown into the back of my underwear drawer. Those smooth silky things are wedgie magnets and I can’t function like that.  But these little pieces of fabric art are free.  Just free, and normally with their own strings still attached.  Bonus.

It’s great.  I get to walk in, grab my brand spankin’ new undies and stroll out of the store without ever digging into the abyss that is my purse.  My wallet never makes an appearance.  Free is a magic four letter word.

Every few months the postman delivers this card to my mailbox.  When I open that promise of complimentary sexiness, I get giddy.  I start to visualize how I am going to trick that sneaky Victoria Secret.  Her mystery has nothing on me.  I’m no dummy.  I know these on-the-house panties are just a ploy to get me into their store, but remember, I’m not a coupon newbie.  I know how to put on blinders and walk past the cute AND sexy sports bra.  I can ignore the soft stretchy yoga pants.  The glittery-lettered “bombshell” would look awesome on my booty, but, NO.  I’m not a sucker.  Those PINK tanks and shorts, meant for girls 15 years my junior, fit really well on me…. Don’t get sucked in Lindsey.  Blinders, remember?  I’m here to get my free stuff and that’s it.  Stay strong.

Since I had never set foot in this VS, I made sure to do an observational pass-by before going into the viper’s nest.  As I slowly strolled along on the shiny mall tiles, I peered into the wide entrance.  Okay, it looked fairly normal.  Black and pink lace threw up all over the perfectly proportioned mannequins and hung on the pillowy hangers.  There were a few sales people assisting other customers.  Good.  I was in the clear so I shuffled in and stuck to the outer perimeter.  I couldn’t let any of those bouncy sales ladies see me.  If I had to talk to one of them, I might get sucked into the sexy, cute madness.

I refocused on my original objective.  As visions of free silkies floated through my brain, I bumped into something purple and lacy hanging off a cushioned hanger.  Oops.  My clumsiness was loud.  The sales vultures had me in their sights.  Crap.

I put my head down.  No eye contact.  NONE.  I may still have a chance.

I pretended to be looking at a random display.  I needed to find the free of charge product and quick, but where was it?  For the love, it was probably at the back corner of the store.

My tactics worked for 0.3 seconds before a cute, short brunette hopped up in front of me.  She was dressed all in black with a pink measuring tape hanging around her neck like a soccer scarf.  Are perfect size and shaped boobs a requirement for working at VS?  It must be.

HI! MY NAME IS BROOKE. HOW ARE YOU?

Was she yelling?  I looked around to see if anybody else thought the volume was excruciating.  Everyone else was moving along, business as usual.  Just me then.

For a split second I contemplated pretending I was mute.  But that was abandoned when I knew I had to get what I came for.  I don’t mess around when it comes to no-charge undies.

“Hi,” I whispered.

Brooke (with a bright-eyed smile): WHAT’S YOUR NAME?

Me (still trying to sneak shifty glances to find those panties): uhh….Lindsey?

Brooke: WHAT BRINGS YOU IN TODAY? IS IT YOUR DAY OFF?

Me: Umm, no, well kind of.

A confused look spread over her youthful face.

Me: Well, I’m a Stay at Home Mom, so I’m kind of off the clock right now.

Brooke (still a bit confused): Oh yeah!  I guess it’s around 2.  Where are your kids?  Are they at daycare?

Me: What? No.  Umm, they are at school.

< pause >

Lightbulb.

Brooke: Oh! Right! School.

I was extremely glad she’d heard of school.  Maybe this little sales pitch would be over soon.

Brooke: What are you shopping for today?

Me: Oh, I’m just looking around.

Dang it!  I should have said something else.  Now she’s going to show me exactly what I should “just look around” for.

Brooke: Welllllll! Have you seen our new bra? It’s amaaaaaaazing.  It has CREAM inside the lining.  FEEL IT!

Me: What? Okaaaay…

Brooke: This new technology actually makes up for deficit areas.

Now I was the one confused.  Brooke barreled into the undergarment technology lesson by using her own boobs for example.

Brooke: See here, on the outside of my chest?

Oh gosh, now she is touching her own boobs.  I started looking for the exits.

Brooke: I always feel like I need a little more oomph right here.  (Now she was man handling her outer boob portion, right next to the pits.)  The cream fills into the places to give you a fuller, more balanced chest.  There’s another girl who works here who needs a little extra help right here! (Now she was showing me her impressive cleavage.)  IT’S GREAT, RIGHT!?!

My deer-in-headlights look gave her the indication to move onto the next product description.  She grabbed my hand and dragged me over the the next table.

Do saggy mom boobs count as deficit areas?  I’d heard of the age-old bigger is better in the boob department, but I had no idea that Victoria was a scientist.  Was that her secret?  Did she go to MIT and get an engineering education?  Wow.

Brooke: Have you tried this one?  It’s amaaaaaazing….

By then, I was on discomfort overload and I can’t even remember her next technology lesson.  I think it lasted for another five minutes, which, of course felt like five hours.  I was sweating and trying to hold back the hyperventilation.

She may have received indication that I was no longer paying attention because she shoved a card into my hand with instructions to check off all the undergarments I wanted to try on.

Brooke: What products have you worn in the past?

Me: Uhhhh….I can’t remember….something with “body” in the label.

Brooke: Oh! Was it Body by Victoria or Beauty Body or Body Sexy or Secret Body?

Me:……..I’m sorry, I have no idea.

By now her smile was fading and an exasperated look was starting to creep into the corner of her eyes.  I was clearly a lost cause.  There was no hope for me.  She tried another angle.

Brooke: What size are you?  Have you been measured lately?  I can measure you right here and now, no problem!

Whoa!  I held the check off list up in the air like a white flag.

Me: No! Nope.  No thank you.  I know my size, thank you very much.  Thank you for your recommendations, I will go now.

And with that graceful departure, I slunk off to hunt down my free goodies.  The mission was not lost yet.  Set backs happen, time to move forward.

After careful survey of the store I finally found my prize.  As I walked up to the register, another smiley lady began her approach.  This time, I had my bearings and I held up my white check off card flag, “Brooke has already helped me.  Thanks!”  Now get away, salessnake.

I had a little moment of panic at the cash register.  The minksy blonde asked if I wanted to purchase anything else.  She rattled off all the deals going on at the store that day.  I knew back and forth conversation was my downfall so I just smiled and let her list off the amaaaaazing deals.

I replied with a mirrored smile and a, “No thanks, I’ll just get these today.”  She seemed kind of pissed as I inched the panties closer to her scanner.

I marched out of the store with my head held high and my prize wrapped up in pink tissue paper.  I did it.  I survived.  Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom!!!!!!

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Yep. I just posted a picture of my underwear on the internet.  But it was a MAJOR AWARD.  So sue me.

 

being an introvert, life

Little Steps

When I look at a whole job or task or chore, it seems too big.  It looms over my head and the cloud of panic and procrastination cripples me.  I mentally quit even before I start.  This pattern of thought plagues big important things in my life.  But the little day-to-day chores take a hit too.

Take laundry for example.  I have no problem putting a load into the washer.  Transferring the clothes to the dryer is even easier.  But folding and hanging the clothes when they are dry?  Nope.  I avoid those clean clothes like I do an unvaccinated child.

My problem is that I see the whole job and I shut down.  It’s too daunting.  Too scary and too hard.  I can’t do it.  I know I’ll fail so I might as well never start.

I’ve recently figured out a trick to combat my avoidance.  Again, take laundry for example.  I’ll walk by the demon dryer and instead of slinking past, I tell myself, “Okay, I don’t have to do the whole load.  I’ll just hang the pants for now.”  Sometimes I will slowly put away that load over the course of a couple days.  I break off chewable pieces and progress is made.  Other times I finish with the first goal and move on to another doable part right away.  Before I know it, I’ve folded and put away the whole load.  If I would have made the whole load my goal, I would have never stepped foot into the laundry room.

Now that I’ve got laundry down, I need to generalize this strategy.  While getting household chores completed is important, there are other relational items that would benefit from making little sub-goals.  I avoid huge, important social interactions because they seem too hard.  My fear of failure keeps me from investing in others.  Maybe if I take little steps I can make some progress.  Writing a little note doesn’t sound too daunting.  One bitty five minute phone call isn’t much of a commitment.  If I bumble along while meeting someone for coffee I haven’t failed at the whole relationship.

If I take a little step forward, it may lead to more little steps.  Even if it doesn’t, I’m farther along in the relational road than when I started.  If I only focus on the perfect end goal, I’ll quit and never make any progress.  I can do one step at a time.  I’ll focus on putting one foot in front of the other so I don’t freeze up before I start.

Do you panic when you know overarching relational goals need to be met?  What little steps can you take today?  Where do you hope to end up?

adventures in adulthood, being an introvert

I Guess I’ve Got the Look

Last week I mentioned that I had a crazy busy week that involved a ton of planning.  One of the major events that required me to run around town like a chicken with it’s head cut off was Bingo.  About a month prior, I got asked to be the chairperson for the PTSA Bingo Night at the boys’ school.  I reluctantly agreed.  I love bingo and I knew how hard the five people who run the volunteer parent group work to support the students and teachers.  I wanted to get more involved, but chairperson?  That may be too much for me.  I realized they saw me as fresh meat and needed someone to organize this extra event.  Plus, they all had already put a million hours into all the other events and fundraisers so I figured it was my turn to step up.

After I put my name on this project, Christmas happened, then we vacationed in Texas, then my side of the family came over to celebrate the holidays.  Before I knew it, there were two weeks to go until the big night happened and I hadn’t really given it much of a second thought.  Yeah, I know, I know, procrastinate much?

I love details though.  I love when things finally come together.  I see a vision of how the end product should be, then I break it into chewable pieces.  In my quiet office or ordering things behind a computer screen, I slowly gather all the moving parts together.  It’s kind of fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely had a few freakouts mid process.  I absolutely hate asking for donations.  Talking to people I don’t know scares me enough, but when you throw in asking for money, it’s like hearing nails on a chalkboard.  My soul cringes, I twitch and I just want to hide under a warm blanket.  A couple days in a row, I had planned to make the rounds in town to ask local businesses to help us out and donate prizes.  Instead of crossing that off my list, I panicked and went grocery shopping instead.  I got an amazing amount of work done that day, trying my best to do everything BUT ask people for money.

I admitted my failure to Tim through a face full of tears.  He graciously offered to ask the scary business people for offerings but I knew I had to do this for myself.  It’s for the kids, I told myself.  Suck it up and get it done!  I got some boosting encouragement from friends the next day and set out.

Success!  I was surprised that most people were happy to help the local school out.  I even found some cool shops and restaurants that I didn’t know existed before this terrifying mission.  I came home with a car load worth of donations and promises of more to come later.

Most of the time, I like to compile all these details all by myself.  It’s easier than explaining exactly how I want it done.  But in order to practice self-care and preemptive reduction of stress, I knew I needed to ask for some assistance.  I needed help, so I delegated.

I’m learning to prioritize by figuring out which bits to hold close, the parts I want to artfully complete.  Those other things that aren’t as important to me, I hand off to other, most of the time more capable, people.  That person can figure out how they want to get that puzzle piece together, without my specific input.

When planning out this Bingo night, I knew right away I would need to find someone to MC the event.  There was no way I would be standing in front of a whole bunch of people holding a microphone.  Luckily, I found the perfect person.  I guess at one point in her life she had been a stand up comedian.  Perfect.  I could hand that off to her.

Just before she went on stage, we were prepping in a side room by going over the little details of the night’s schedule.  She interjected with, “Are you sure you don’t want to be the caller?  I mean, I don’t mind doing it, but I also don’t want to take the  show away from you.”

“Are you kidding me?  I absolutely hate being up front.  That’s not my thing; you go for it.”  I would stick with my role as floor walker and even that was a bit too much stage time for me.

“Okay, but let me tell you, with your look – you could go really far and do a lot of great things.”

Ummm.  Thank you?  I guess that was a compliment.  I was flattered that she thought my “look” was something that would render success, but I’m perfectly comfortable being a wall flower.  I like standing in the back, out of view, making sure everything runs smoothly.  I like that position, I’m good at it and I really didn’t feel like hyperventilating or breaking out in a rash that night.

I completely understand she meant that statement as a compliment.  And I am aware of my tendency to read way too much into what people say.  However, I can’t deny that I felt a little put down.  It was demeaning that I was wasting my “look.”  I felt like, because I wasn’t comfortable up on stage, or at least because I didn’t want to get over my fear of that, I wasn’t doing all that I could to help.  I wasn’t the whole package apparently.

Of course, there are also a lot of other explanations for her comment.  She could have been having little misgivings or stage fright.  She could have also been not confident about her “look.”  My overplanning of the details for the night may have been slightly irritating.  She also probably just wanted to check in to make sure she wasn’t steamrolling my project.  All of those are more likely options.

I know it was just my sensitivity kicking into high gear.  My brain was working overtime after that comment and I started looking inward.  Rather than focusing on what it meant toward me, I should have been focused on what might push her to say that.  Either way, both of us were probably stuck on what we couldn’t give, rather than everything our strengths had accomplished.  Why is that always our knee-jerk reaction?

We need all contributions.  We need MC’s and comedians, and we also need people like me.  The ones who never really grew out of being a shy, four-eyed, goofy little girl.  The ones who will quietly pull all the neat little pieces together.  We need all types of people.  Everybody has something different to give; there are varying strengths to be offered up.  Life is like bingo.  If we want to win, we need different numbers called in order to get that five in a row.