The saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” is usually meant to indicate that someone wonderful was lost and only then do you realize how incredible that person was.
I’m learning the flip side of that phrase. Sometimes you lose something and only then see how fucking awful it was.
I always thought of myself as being shy and awkward, even nervous to talk to people who I knew. A family member recently told me they had always interpreted my behaviour towards others as anger and other crappy emotions I wasn’t properly dealing with. That’s a polite way of them saying they thought I was a jerk, which I know I totally come across as.
Last week Tuesday afternoon, a small and shaky plane landed in Boston with me inside, flinching and closing my eyes at every bit of turbulence. With one of my closest friends beside me, we walked to get our baggage and meet a friend of hers who I had recently begun speaking with on Facebook but who I’d never met in person. The Meg Crane way of meeting someone new—especially after a rocky flight—would be to avoid talking at all costs. The Meg Crane who was in Boston was teasing her host and starting conversations.
It turns out, I’m not really shy and awkward. I’m brimming with social anxiety and low on self-confidence. At least, I was.
This isn’t the first instance of me approaching a social situation without overpowering fear, but it is the first time in my life that I am regularly okay speaking to other human beings who I don’t know well.
The flights home were frustrating due to unhelpful staff and confusing airports, but there were no signs of anxiety. My breathing was fine, my heart rate was pretty normal, and I wasn’t worried at all when I was paged to talk to staff or when my carry on was searched.
My fears of looking like an idiot have all but melted away, and now I see how much that was impacting my life. I didn’t know I had awful social anxiety until it was mostly gone, and life on the other side is beautiful.