I was scrolling through the friends list on my Facebook page when I came to the realisation that I had more Facebook friends than regular friends. I know I'm not alone there; most profiles have a one to two hundred strong friends list, and nobody can say they've actually met that many people, but what if I was to tell you that my tally came to a grand total of eight? Yes, you read right, eight. I then did some investigating into why my social circle was so small, and once again, my trusty laptop provided the answer. The grid list that pops up on screen whenever I open up a new tab revealed something startling: I was addicted to social media. Saturday nights for my flesh and blood friends (all three of them) consist of drinking, partying, eating food that doesn't come flat-packed in cardboard and meeting real live men. A kid-free Saturday evening at Mel's is usually spent adding to the list of people I follow on Twitter who will never follow me back, eating pizza that could double as a steering wheel for Mario Kart, laughing at dating site profiles, and posting hourly status updates on Facebook (8.00 p.m: ate dinner...9.00 pm: watched Buffy...10.00 p.m: hid the painkillers...you get the idea).
My shyness has been with me for as long as I can remember, and the reason I find it difficult to let go of, believe it or not, is that it has been as much a friend as it has an enemy. Had I not been too shy to go out and play with the kids in my neighbourhood as a little girl, I probably wouldn't have fallen in love with writing as early as I did. But who's to say I wouldn't have fallen in love with it anyway, at some point? I have spent the past few days dreaming up dozens of plausible sounding excuses to get me out of going out this Saturday night on what my regular readers will know is the first date I've had in over a year. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Well, the madness doesn't stop there. My best friend Corrina turns forty in two weeks time, and has invited me to her party. Given the fact that she is the closest thing I've ever had to a sister, and that we've known each other since we were eleven and twelve, you would think I'd be dress shopping and writing a speech. Instead, I'm sweating bullets at the thought of her twenty plus guests seeing me out of my jeans and judging my style. I'm letting something I can control take control of me and jip me out of what will probably be an absolute blast. What's worse is that I did actually manage to kick the shyness habit for a long time. Once high school was behind me, I went wild. A large chunk of the first half of my twenties is a blissful blur; I made all the mistakes and faux pas I should have made in my teens, and then some...it was awesome! Somewhere around the time of my thirty seventh birthday, however, a toxic relationship (I call it a relationship because I can't think of a PG euphemism for it), and dozens of other little things ganged up to wage an all out assault on my ego, which resulted in me bowing to the irresistible temptation to throw in the towel and weld my rapidly expanding bum to the couch. I've since dropped all the weight, but can't quite seem to shift the ten kilos of self doubt that's crushing down on my brain like a bag of cement.
To put it simply; I know I'm a cool, interesting, funny person with a lot to say; the thing that's intermittently holding me back is that I'm terrified no one else will listen. I feel utterly ridiculous just reading that back; I've spent the past four weeks or so telling you all to get off your arses and get what you want before someone else grabs it, yet I'm stuck posing for the before shot in a self esteem wonder drug ad! Okay, enough of this. This post was really just to let you know that we all have our down days/weeks/months/years, and that they do pass; whether these dark times stroll off at an infuriatingly leisurely pace, or streak by and jump out the window to a grizzly death is up to one person, and one person alone. I am now about to tear that person a new one, thereby forcing her to take those dark times and send them to the Bermuda Triangle in a single engine plane.