As a child, I was one of those people who, when trying to relate a funny experience, finally settles for, “I guess you would have had to be there.” The listeners politely smile and I feel stupid…again.
I would attempt to tell a joke, one which was actually hilarious, and when I get to the punch line, realize that I already gave it away while telling the joke.
It got to where I would, generally speaking, hope no one would notice me, though I really wished they would—the dilemma of a socially inept preteen. At one party, I sat in silence, holding my soda. I didn’t take a sip in case someone was going to strike up a conversation with me. Finally, the summer heat and my thirst got the better and I took a gulp. At that moment, a family friend looked at me with a smile and asked, “How have you been?”
Have you ever tried to speak and swallow at the same time? I wouldn’t recommend it. After spending the next few moments coughing myself red, I turned to finally respond. He had moved on to another person, another conversation. I was left with my now-warm soda, and a face I knew was glowing like Rudolph’s nose.
In my last year of high school, the counselor let me know I would not be able to graduate unless I had first taken speech class. After the meeting with my mother and counselor, in which I asked the counselor if there were any other options (there weren’t), we returned to the car. Mom quipped, “You turned red just thinking about the speech class.”
I didn’t think it was funny.
Halfway through the class, the counselor took me aside. “I know you have straight A’s. If you want to keep them, the communications teacher mentioned that you need to look up a bit more when you talk in front of the class. You can’t stare at the paper in front of you.”
Easy for you to say, I thought. I managed to stammer, “I’ll try.”
I got an A-.
Things have, thankfully, changed in the 15 years since that time. I have come to realize that I wasn’t the only person in the world who felt awkward, alone, and that I didn’t have much to offer in a social setting. That realization helped me to move beyond my fears and insecurity and reach out to others in conversation, communication and friendship.
At this point in my life, I actually enjoy striking up conversations with people, though I might still blush in a large group setting.
Somewhere along the path of my life, I made a discovery—another form of communication.
The written word.
When writing, I have the ability to stop for a moment and think. Formulate my words. Ask myself if that’s what I really want to say. If not, there’s always backspace or delete.
Sometimes it’s still a challenge, finding the right words for a particular story, post, or poem. The concept is there, but the words can tend to be elusive.
Yet as I write, the ability grows, as well as the inspiration and joy of expression. Words might fail for a moment, but they’re there, somewhere, waiting to be found and strung together to create a telling picture. It might not be perfect; it might not express all that is in my heart, but it’s a start.
If you saw something of yourself in the words above, try picking up your pen. Begin to write. You might find words in your heart that you never knew were there, and more, a way to express yourself to those you love.
If nothing else, at least they can’t see you blush.