i wasn't always so shy. i wasn't always so quiet. i used to be the sassy, bossy, nosy know-it-all who told her friends and older sister what was up. but anxiety took a lot of that away & moving to atlanta, without a car, a job or friends, worsened it. for years i could barely speak to anyone.
i had finally started to break out of this pattern when the big sad day came and it was difficult to tell myself that this wasn't why - i had finally started to be myself, and then everything fell apart.
i didn't want to undo all of the work that i had done, but i did want to hide until i could figure out what my next step was. i didn't want to be broken and confused in front of the people whose friendship i was already afraid of losing.
so i hid out in my apt, netflix & crying a lot and singing along to angry breakup songs while dancing in my kitchen. i also cooked too much food, slept on one side of the bed and still woke up early enough for someone else to shower after me. it was an adjustment.
you think your apartment is quiet when your husband, boyfriend, roommate is gone. but do you know what it sounds like when they aren't coming back? the independence i had always enjoyed now made me feel that certain kind of lonely, the kind that no one can relieve.
this is what it took for me to do what i had never had the courage to before: send text messages to people who i had always known but barely spoken to, asking them to grab dinner, a coffee, lunch or go to yoga with me. sometimes i would hide my phone for hours afterward, afraid to read their responses.
but a lot of them just said yes, sure, when.
when we met up, i told them my story and then they told me theirs. i remember thinking 'i've never met so many flawed people before'. i had never met so many people before. when i became vulnerable with them, they did so with me and we formed a community, built on openness.
they got me out of my apartment, and my own head; they reminded me of how young i was and showed me what life could be like if i stopped being so afraid.
i still crave independence and i really like living alone. but on those nights when i'm feeling that certain kind of lonely, knowing that they are sitting alone too makes me feel a little less broken.
i've spent many late nights and quiet mornings thinking angrily about all of the years i gave to anxiety and all of the other things it took from me: those risks i didn't take, cups of coffee i didn't drink, and people i never really met because i was too afraid.
but every time i have dinner, go to a party, grab lunch with a coworker or coffee with a friend i remember that not so long ago, i had no one. and now, i have so many someones.
and all i had to do was ask.