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.

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    Reply stacey February 6, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    I’ve got an alternative theory that revolves around her trying to tell you that you’ve got style and beauty. Both of which are COMPLETELY true.

    But you get to decide how that style and beauty express themselves through your personality and what energizes you. Nothing is ever wasted as long as you’re being true to who you are.

    Good on ya for making the night happen. I can’t even imagine taking something like that on (I’m 51% extroverted but Other Grownups at School terrify me) and I’m crazy impressed that you made it happen.

    PS I couldn’t help but think of the scene in The Office where the stripper says to Pam: “You could strip, you know.” Long pause, then Pam sighs as she thanks her . . .

    Reply Lindsey February 6, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Stacey, you are so encouraging. Thanks for cheering me on.

    I remember that Office scene! I remember that look Pam gives her at the end of the scene. Office wisdom does us all good.

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