Upon my first morning in the Pacific Northwest, the experience began full-throttle, leaving no option other than buckling up and going along for the ride. Who cares that we had only had a few hours of sleep. A much-needed stop at Woods Coffee for a cold brew was followed by an idyllic walk along Bellingham Bay. Not a cloud in the sky. Mothers and fathers walking on the boardwalk with their children. Couples holding hands. It was all perfect. Making our way along the shore, we walked towards the local farmer's market. As we approached the permanent structure, the rest of my group went to watch a street performer as I began snapping a few pictures. A future blog post, an Instagram post or two - this place was filled to the brim with opportunity. Without looking up, I began editing a picture and walked back towards the performance. Even as I stood next to my family, I continued looking down, editing the picture, completely ignoring the performance that was taking place fifteen feet in front of me. I did not look up until I heard a guy yell, "Oh don't worry about me. I'll just wait until you finish up that tweet of yours!" I had been called out in front of a rather large crowd of strangers. Embarrassed, I shoved my iPhone into my back pocket, crossed my arms and began watching.
The performer reminded me of Dick Van Dyke's character in Mary Poppins - instruments strapped to his back and feet, vigorously playing and accordion. Just as it appeared the show was over, the man announced to the group that the time had come for his assistants to help close out the show. For a second, I looked around him - he had no assistants. Exactly. That was the point. His assistants would be volunteers from the crowd. Only this time, a certain blonde-haired man with a white stripped shirt and jeans would be unwilling volunteered. I may seem outgoing and social to an extent, but I am as long as I am in control of the situation. Going up in front of a crowded farmer's market to shake my butt and have a stranger stand on my arms in sweaty smelly feet is not being in control.
So why am I telling you this story? It is a perfect example of being uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with situations. Uncomfortable with myself. The thing about me is this - I have an intense fear and concern with what others think about me, or how they perceive me. Even if I don't explicitly know how they feel, I will come up with their thoughts and feelings in my mind. For years I've worked on this, trying to be confident in who I am, in what I bring to the table, in my awkward quirks. No matter what I do, those feelings of awkwardness, of insecurity and doubt, have a way of sneaking their way back into the forefront of my thoughts. Whether the things I am projecting are true or not, I feel them, and they allow me to doubt myself. I have a feeling it will always be a work in progress.
Honestly, I have gone back over this article wanting to delete the entire thing. Why am I putting this out onto the internet? The thing that I am learning is that we have to be a little uncomfortable sometimes. We have to be uncomfortable to learn who we are, what makes us tick, but most importantly, the only way we are going to grow and challenge ourselves is by getting outside our comfort zone. So what does this mean to you? Clearly I am not a fan of being a part of a street performance, or being vulnerable to people, or doing karaoke at a small bar in Chinatown. Even writing a blog can be uncomfortable at times. Am I just going to write about food? Leave everything at surface level? Or do I choose to be real with my readers and show a true genuine side of who I am and what my life is like? Clearly I am writing this article, so I am making attempts to be real. Whatever your quirks are - own them. Embrace them. Find a way to push a little further and find comfort in the uncomfortable.