I have learned a lot about myself over the past couple of months. When I first started this journey, I never dreamed it would help me grow as much as it has. I have shared many personal things on my blog so far. I have really enjoyed being open and honest, but there are still a lot of things I have kept hidden. Hopefully, over the next few weeks I will finally be able to get rid of these skeletons in my closet for good. One thing I have neglected to share with you is I have terrible social anxiety. I have always felt somewhat uncomfortable in crowds of people, but over the past couple of years it has gotten a lot worse. I know it probably sounds a little crazy, but there have been times when I was grocery shopping that as the store would get busy, panic would set in. I have actually left my entire cart of groceries sitting in the middle of an isle all by its lonesome too many times to count. Shopping at the mall doesn’t always go very well for me, and there are certain restaurants I can’t step foot in on a Friday or Saturday night. As I am confessing these things, I feel so ashamed and embarrassed. To prove just how dedicated I am to this journey of becoming a better person, yesterday I stepped completely out of my comfort zone. I actually attended the St. Patricks Day parade in Newport RI, and I stayed the entire time!
I have to be completely honest, the thought of going to this event terrified me! The St. Patricks Day parade here is HUGE!! Literally thousands of people attend and over 2000 people march in it.This parade dates all the way back to 1863. So when I say I stepped out of my comfort zone, I am not exaggerating! The parade was set to start at 11 a.m. so we arrived an hour early with the girls in order to find a prime viewing spot. We were extremely lucky and found a bench to sit on. I have never seen so many people in one place in all of my life. The restaurants and bars opened and starting serving people at 8 a.m.! I have never seen so many drunk people in all of my life either! Maybe I am somewhat sheltered, but this parade was a whole new experience for me!
As people started arriving to watch the parade, I could feel my anxiety brewing. My heart was racing and at times I even felt dizzy. I know I sound like a crazy person, but this was the largest crowd I have ever been in! I actually hid my panic quite well. My girls were having the time of their lives and seeing the smile on their faces made me so happy. My husband walked them up close to the curb so they could have a front row view. I stayed on the bench so I would not be standing in the middle of a huge crowd. Even though I stayed back a little, I am still really proud of myself. This was a huge accomplishment for me. I didn’t have a panic attack. Whenever I started to feel the panic set in, I thought of my kids and how special of a day this was for them. Those thoughts helped me keep calm enough to make it through the entire two hour show! A crazy thing did happen though, about half way through, a woman standing beside the bench fainted! I helped get her to the bench and gave her a juice box while her husband called the ambulance. That whole experience was so surreal for me because usually I am the one who faints in public. Maybe one day I will go more into detail about that. It felt so good to be able to help her. I have been in her shoes many times before, and I knew exactly how to handle the situation. Even better, I didn’t panic at all!
I accomplished so many things yesterday, and even though I can’t say that my social anxiety is cured, I can say that I am one step closer to having LESS social anxiety, and that is huge. This whole experience has empowered me. It has made me realize so many things. I can be a better person. I can be a happier person. I can be a stronger person. I just have to put forth the effort. Who I am now is not the person I have to be. I can improve myself and I will. Being on this road to self-discovery is the best thing that has ever happened to me.