Time is Ticking, Ticking, Ticking…

Me in high school (age 15)

I am running out of time. Only two more days. No, not until the start of the Olympic Games. No, it’s not an illness, or a birthday, or the start of a new school year.Two days from now will be the very last day I can choose to buy a ticket to attend my 20-year high school reunion. Time is ticking away. The deadline looms, like a sharpened guillotine above my head.

But wait…it’s a high school reunion. There will be food, and old friends and acquaintances, and dancing. I love dancing! Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Something to look forward to? One of those rites of passage I promised myself I would not miss out on? Why am I not jumping up and down, waving my $50 ticket in the air with excitement? Well you see…I am shy. Dreadfully shy. When I am around groups of people, especially those whom I do not know very well, I find myself fighting off panic attacks, taking deep breaths to try and dissolve the gigantic lump in my throat. I have always been this way.

But wait a moment…wasn’t I the coordinator for my high school class reunion ten years ago? Didn’t I head a committee of people to actually put on the entire event? So why the insecurity this time? The answer is simpler than it seems. When I was the reunion coordinator, I had a role. I did not have to be me. I was The-One-In-Charge. The one who is supposed to smile and be chatty and walk around the room to make sure everyone is having a good time. Somehow, when I have a role to play, being outgoing is as easy as performing on stage during my high school days in drama classes. I do not have to be the dull, awkward, strange Girl From Jupiter who can never find her place in life. When I have a clear role to play, I get to pretend that I am outgoing, talkative, even bubbly. I get to be that Woman Who Everyone Else Wishes She Could Be.

But two weeks from now, hundreds of former students from my high school class will be gathering together to drink beers and dance and reminisce about the good old days at Fairfield High School. And I — who has never even drunk a beer before, and loves to dance but is actually afraid to step out on the dance floor most of the time — will probably be sitting alone at some table in the corner, marveling over how much fun everyone else seems to be having, and how different everyone looks twenty years after those good old days at Fairfield High School. And maybe someone will recognize me — and maybe not. But in my imagination, I will stand on a table and yell something really cool, like “Fairfield Falcons For-evah!” And everyone will be so drunk that they will cheer, and…okay not even in my imagination can I be that outgoing.

Oof! Two more days to decide. The clock is ticking. 48-ish hours. 2,880 minutes. 172,800 seconds. 1.728e+14 nanoseconds…

Performing was easy when I had a role to play. It’s being myself that is hard to do.