A couple weeks ago I did something.
Actually, that’s not quite true.
After the Switchfoot concert, before I walked out of the venue, I saw a man by the door talking to a couple women. I’ve never met this man but he looked familiar. Could that really be the founder of TWLOHA?
I heard of the nonprofit, To Write Love On Her Arms, back when MySpace was popular, circa 2006. I don’t know how I stumbled upon it but his post/story about his days with Renee Yohe resonated with me because, at the time, I was full of self destructive behaviors. Pretty soon, however, TWLOHA became my favorite nonprofit. As someone who used to self-injure, had an eating disorder, and depression, this organization and their mission is near and dear to my heart.
For that reason, my brain resonated who it was but I couldn’t really be certain. I knew Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot, was one of the first celebrities to wear TWLOHA merch and they have collaborated the past couple years for “Heavy and Light” – an event that was started in 2007. But did he really drive up to Orlando (about an hour and a half from TWLOHA headquarters in Melbourne, FL)?
I had a choice: walk up and ask, “Are you Jamie Tworkowksi from TWLOHA?”, or walk out of the venue.
Not being one to interrupt people who are speaking, especially when I don’t know them, I waited nearby. Then he went into the bathroom. Now, this is the moment where my brain started talking me out of the first option.
“It would be creepy if you waited for him to come out of the bathroom. What are you, a stalker?
But it would be totally awesome to meet him and let him know how much TWOLHA means to me.
That’s cool and all but what else would you say? Don’t be one of those people who awkwardly waits for a stranger to come out of the bathroom. You don’t even know if that’s really him.
Look, that’s totally him. What should I say?
You’re not good with conversation. This will be 100% awkward for you. He’s already walked away. You’ve missed your chance.
No, look, I think someone called his name. If I go now I could still do it.
But why? You’ve got nothing to say.“
Needless to say, I walked away. When I got outside, I kicked myself for chickening out. Immediate regret.
Later I realized I was lying to myself. I was lying to myself based off past behaviors. I was lying to myself based off other people’s opinions of who I was. I was lying to myself because it was less scary than walking up to someone I admire and letting them know that the work they are doing is changing lives; it certainly has changed mine.
Growing up I was a quiet child; I’m still fairly quiet. But my being quiet has nothing to do with my ability to hold a conversation. I’ve been holding on to that lie for so long that I didn’t even realize it wasn’t true until that night. Did I know what to say after an introduction? No, but I’m not the only one who would be in conversation, a talk between two or more people.
I can go to networking events without knowing what to say and find myself in a conversation. I can go to stores and conversate with the cashier. I can sit at my laptop every Sunday and write a blog post because I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY.
Sometimes we let the world dictate who we are. It’s not our fault when it’s a learned behavior and we don’t know any better. But, when we realize it’s a lie, then it becomes our responsibility to either continue to live a lie or put our foot down and tell the universe that, no, this is not who I am.
In a way I still regret not walking up to Jamie and saying hello. On the other hand, choosing to walk away has helped me see the lie I was telling myself. So I guess walking away was the right choice because it led me closer to becoming who I want to be.
What lie have you been telling yourself because those around you growing up taught you to believe it?
A couple weeks ago I did something.