I have come to the conclusion many times, especially since becoming a supposed ‘grown up,’ that I am a socially inept little bird. When I got my ‘freshman orientation’ questionnaire feedback back in college and read that they thought I was likely to be a little socially awkward, I was incensed and frustrated and sure they did not know who it was they spoke of. More and more, especially after the gauntlet of life since college, I believe those results were quite true.
Today I went to my second meeting of a local Mom’s group. Now I am *all for* Mom’s groups. I believe in Mom’s groups. I started one in our church a few years back and while it was small, it was a powerful force of connection for me, and I would like to think, for others. Nonetheless, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a room with that many people, and in a ‘table group’ of several with all new women, trying to navigate the niceties of Mommy social groups and interactions. And, so far, it seems like in this group at least I’m proving to be a social flop.
Apparently, I never got the memo on how to keep up with the banter that happens at round table discussions–especially those involving small talk. I swear by the time I figure out a coherent way to enter a conversation I’m already seven steps behind and by the time I’ve caught up on what we’re talking about, I have to shift gears again. Am I the only awkward duck out there, or can anyone else relate??? Yeah, it’s ok. I probably AM the only one. Anyway… This introverted, introspective girl who is much more comfortable doing thoughts in my head or on paper gets a little overwhelmed in moments like these–especially when I’m the ‘new one’ and not the ‘welcoming one.’
I left this meeting, which I know, wishes to be an encouragement to women, and which I have fully expected to be an encouragement to me feeling… Well… Like a socially inept, awkward duck trying to waddle around outside of her comfortable, swimmable pond. And it’s absolutely NOT the fault of this organization, or the women at my ’round table.’ I’m quite certain it’s a me thing.
Whether it’s my inability to ‘engage lightness’ or just the baggage that comes when you get a weird and scary diagnosis and work through it and try to re-emerge into ‘normal‘…. I just don’t play well with others sometimes. I’m not grumpy or catty by any means. I just… don’t quite connect anymore. These days I spend too much time wondering how much I should divulge about my current journey and as I have already mentioned get a little bit lost in multi-player discussions. It’s just… not pretty lately.
And so I left feeling like an ugly duckling… feeling discouraged and wondering what exactly is wrong with me. I was doing that awful, misguided thing I do when I focus too much on what ‘everyone else must be thinking’ (I know… I know–how narcissistic of me, right?! And also… they’ve all got their own hang ups… I know!). Anyway, as I was driving along feeling gloomy about that, I had this image flash into my brain:
Ms. Carolyn’s face–lit up with relief and excitement and the assurance of knowing she was loved–this morning when I dropped off the library book that we’d forgotten to tuck into her backpack. It was our first ‘call Mom at home to help fix it because I left something’ incident and while at first I chided myself for not reminding Carolyn it was library day (er… um… not even knowing it was library day….) and felt a little exasperated about the extra task I had to squeeze in prior to going to the Mommy meeting, that look on her face….. Well it was just one of those one-out-of-a-thousand moments as a Mom when you know why you do what you do. I mean it was one of those, “Oh, Mommy… I knew I could count on you… Oh Mommy, I knew you’d be there. Oh Mommy you came, you really, really came and I know that you love me and right now you are my HERO!” looks and I lapped it in.
So as I’m sitting there in my car, beating myself up, it occurred to me who the important people in my life are… And it occurred to me that their opinions of me are what REALLY matter and my relationships with them are the MOST important and that when I see myself through the love in their eyes, socially inept or not, I see someone who is loved for who she is.
It occurred to me furthermore, that ultimately, the eyes of encouragement that I needed to be seeking were the eyes of one who is closer than a brother. That HE above all gets me…. He created me. And he doesn’t make mistakes. I AM fearfully AND wonderfully made, socially inept though I may be, and he stoops down to hand me back the wisdom that I’ve forgotten of who I am in His eyes, just as readily as I find time in my day to drop off a library book for my first grader.
Socially inept ugly duckling or not, I am loved and known by God, and my family and quite frankly, I can keep on waddling along with that just fine.