This afternoon I’ll drop my 13-year-old off at church where she’ll board a bus northbound for a Winter Retreat with her Junior High youth group. Though we haven’t done an official count, off the top of my head, this is probably the 6th or 7th trip like this that she has taken. Each time I help her gather the supplies or drop her off at the bus, I can’t help but marvel at how lucky I am that my kids have overcome their old man’s genes to become the social and spiritual creatures that they are. I came back to spirituality and faith in adulthood and cherish my faith, but it’s the social piece that always fills my heart.
Perhaps it’s the most compelling argument I can make in the “nature v nurture” debate. My girls come from two parents who couldn’t possibly be more different in our social graces. They say opposites attract, but I tend to look at it more simply as “why would I want to marry myself?” To show proper scale, my wife is not a social butterfly… she’s a social pterodactyl. Her social wing span is about as wide as a city block. We go to baseball games and by the 3rd inning she knows everyone in an 18-seat radius. We don’t leave the house without running into a dozen people she knows and a half a dozen more who know her but she can’t place. She doesn’t turn down social invitations. She commands a room, a conversation and a healthy dose of attention. She’s as socially extroverted a human being as I’ve ever met.
I’m an Anti-Socialist.
Wait! Wait! Before my right-leaning readers throw a fist in the air and start chanting Anti-Obama rhetoric… not that kind of Socialist.
I dread social situations.
Friends. Co-Workers. Even family. I have such a deep-seeded anxiety about social situations, I’ve been known to mentally make myself physically ill in advance of potential social interactions.
I don’t know if it goes back to being 400+ pounds and always feeling like people were judging me.
I don’t know if it’s from changing schools constantly growing up and always being the new kid.
I don’t know if it’s this weird “OCDADHDTV” thing that I have where I’m afraid I’m going to say something wrong.
I don’t know if it’s just because I don’t like putting on pants.
I seek out reasons to not be social in the real world.
Twitter? I can follow.
Facebook? I “LIKE” it a lot.
I’ll REDDIT, Stumble, Tumble or even Pin It, but walk up to me at the store and I’ll seize up like an AMC Pacer.
But…here’s the thing…. no matter how much artificial stress I put on myself… no matter how many horrifying outcomes I concoct in my brain… no matter how much I want to live the Anti-Socialist lifestyle that I’ve created in my mind… I don’t. I ignore the sound of my own heartbeat pounding in my ears and I socialize. Not because I need it. Not because it’s the human thing to do when people are trying to interact with you (though it is).
I do it because the irrational fear I create is just that – irrational.
I do it because I know that the “judging” that’s going on in my head is what’s stopping me – not the judgement of others.
And I do it for them.
I do it for my girls.
I do it so they’ll go to camp… so they’ll join teams… so they’ll go to sleepovers… so that they won’t do what I do… so that they won’t fear fear.
No matter how much I want to give in to my fear. No matter how much I want to be an Anti-Socialist. It’s not about me. American Author Clarence Buddington Kelland once said, “My Father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
Are you living your life like your children are watching?