Sniffles can be the death of confidence.
Do you ever have days where you feel like you can take on the world? You look into the mirror, tilt your head, smirk and you go, “What up, world? I’m coming for you.”
Well, I felt like that today. My challenge was to go out, and buy bread and soup from the campus co-op. Tiny thing to many maybe, but to me it still meant making human contact. It still meant having to get out of my room, my safe haven. It meant putting on clean clothes, and combing my hair into some kind of a respectable do. It meant walking for about fifteen minutes, trying to look cool and collected while smiling at strangers passing by. I’m usually okay with this if I’m walking in a group. I just melt and hide in the middle and let others do the smiling, the greeting and the shaking of heads. When I have to do all this on my own without the protection of several bodies shielding me, I become awkward, terrified and very aware of myself. Today, I thought I’d face this. This was my way of taking on the world. Baby steps.
There I was, getting ready to go out. I had my A game on. I had my hair in a small little beautiful braid. My face looked clean without its usual bumps. I had on my lovely maroon tee with my favorite pair of jeans. The weather seemed beautiful. No squawking seagulls in sight. Which was a plus.
What could possibly go wrong? I felt like the Juggernaut (minus the uncontrollable anger and meanness, because I’m nice) 😀 Nothing stood a chance in front of me.
I put my headphones on, pressed the ‘play music’ button on my phone, and proceeded towards the co-op. I was in the groove, people. I was feeling awesome. I felt like dancing in the middle of the road, dammit! Me. Dancing. I can’t even walk straight without stumbling, being clumsy and embarrassing myself half the time, so feeling like this was a big deal.
Until the universe conspired against me, and said, “No, no, no, Cat is not allowed to feel cool, even for fifteen minutes. Sorry, not sorry, sucker!”
It started with a big gust of cold wind. Off came a few strands of hair from my braid, falling into my face. But that was cool. I just swept it right back. “We can handle a little wind,” I said to myself. And then more wind. Ahh, a bigger bunch of hair in my face and eyes. And I shakily swept them up again. “Keep walking, focus on the music, you’re in the groove, darling,” I told myself, a bit flustered. And then the universe said, “One more bigass gust of wind to blow her off her feet.” Hair fell all over my face and eyes. My nose became cold, my eyes began to water, and then the worst thing that could ever happen happened. I started sniffling. Sniffling. Nooo! I cringed. I started going all *sniff, sniff* *sniff, sniff* desperately searching for a tissue or handkerchief in my bag. And of course, I couldn’t find one. My headphones fell. I felt like a mess. And I looked around feeling as if every pair of eyes in the vicinity was seeing me struggling to regain my cool composure. And that every pair of ears could hear the God awful constant sniffling. Thanks a bunch, Wind God, if you exist.
And there in the middle of the road died my confidence and the will to take on the world. I almost ran to the co-op then, caught my reflection in the glass door: nose red, hair like a bird’s nest, eyes panicked, and felt even worse. Keeping my head low and still sniffling, I bought my soup and bread, and got the hell out of there, not wanting to feel any other pair of eyes or ears on me. Just wanting the comfort and safety of being alone inside my room, behind my laptop. Never wanting to leave my sanctuary and venture into the unknown again. Even if I’m craving to taste some good soup. Even if I’m dying of hunger. You win, universe, you win. To hell with baby steps. I’m not even ready to crawl.
Here I am now, inside my room, sipping some hot Moroccon Chicken soup (which I have to admit is pretty heavenly, yeah, but still not worth going through all that terror for), no sniffles or watery eyes, but with self-confidence on an all time low. Thinking about it now, I’m sure no one probably even noticed me, let alone my Rudolphish nose. No one probably cared. Yet, a sniffle attack panicked the hell out of me. And all the logic flew away from my mind. Even if people did care, why did it bother me so much? If sniffles can reduce my A game to muck, I wonder what a full on sneeze fest would do.
That’s all I had to say. There’s no moral here, except maybe, to realize how even tiny little things can bring social anxiety right to the front for a lot of people. And it’s scary. And depressing. If you see someone sniffling or sneezing or having an allergic reaction or maybe, just having a bad hair day, be a little kind, huh? Ignore the obvious annoying sounds, and smile at them (not creepily or sadly, because I’m sure that would make someone like me want to die on the spot or crawl into a hole), or go a step further, and offer a tissue or a napkin. Don’t go and offer to comb their hair though. That’s just crossing boundaries now.