Stepping outside of my comfort zone
I am a shy person, always have been. I was the kid attached to her mother’s leg growing up. The kid always crying to go home and asking where her mommy was (birthday parties, school or playdates, it didnt matter). Clearly I was suffering from separation anxiety but back then there wasn’t a label for everything.
Luckily, I have gotten a little better over the years. It still take me awhile to warm up in social situations (thank god for adult beverages) but I am able to walk into a room of strangers and not cry (at least night right away).
In January 2010, when J was diagnosed with autism, the nurse practitioner handed me a flyer for a support group meeting. I remember shoving the paper in my purse and thinking NO WAY was I going to sit and cry with a bunch of strangers.
The social worker who ran the group talked me into going (after I avoided her calls for 2 months). I dragged Mrs. Jeter and off we went. It wasn’t that bad although, we did have to go around the room and introduce ourselves and I HATE that (I always get all nervous before it is my turn like I won’t remember what my name is). Anyway, I started attending more of the support groups (L, the social worker, tells me I stalk her) and began to feel more comfortable talking to the group of parents. I guess because we all had autism in common.
After one meeting L asked me if I was ready to be on a parent panel at the next Navigating the Journey seminar (this is a seminar for parents of newly diagnosed kids with autism. It goes over all aspects of autism and there are guest speakers and a parent panel to answer questions). I don’t know if I am ready but I will think about it I told her.
Me in front of a room of strangers? No one will want to hear what I have to say. Who cares about my thoughts, I am not a doctor.
Were the thoughts that ran through my head for a week. Finally, after discussing with Mrs. Jeter, I made the call (or email) and told L I would do it.
The day arrived and I was nervous all morning, constantly checking to make sure my hair was ok and I wore the right outfit. When I got to the seminar I texted Mrs. Jeter and told her I couldn’t go in (lucky for me she was ignoring me). Finally, I got myself out of the car and into the room.
I felt like all the other parents knew each other (they did) and started to turn bright red when someone said to get a chair and come to the front of the room. OMG here we go, you can do it, I told myself.
Guess what? I did do it (yay!). Not only did I manage to not make a fool out of myself (I hope), parents actually asked ME questions and listened and cared about what I had to say. Afterwards someone even asked for my email.
That was back in September and tomorrow will be my 3rd parent panel. I was even asked to take part in a parent panel at an autism symposium (the word symposium makes it sound that much more official) in April.
I have come a loooong way from the kid who almost got kicked out of kindergarten. It is not always easy. I still get nervous when I have to walk into the room and I’ll always wonder if I’m wearing the right outfit but at least I know I can do it. Now if I can only work on helping the kids not be so shy.