Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer, schbummer

I don't like summer.  Where I live, in southern California, this can be a sacrilegious statement.  Aside from a few perks - the 4th of July and the local fair - I detest this season.  This sentiment has little to do with the weather.  Rather, as a wanna-be teacher for the last three years and a student for the 20 years before that, summer - for me - is the season of absence.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother took care of my sister and I while my parents were at work.  My parents were extremely protective; and as a result, we were extremely sheltered.  Summertime meant long days of staying in the house, constantly being reminded that we were not to stray beyond the gate.  Although those long afternoons instilled in me qualities I cherish - a love of books, self-sufficiency, creativity, and an irreplaceable closeness to my sister - they also taught me to yearn for fall.

Fall, the season of crisp breezes and the excitement of school and life beyond the picket fence that bordered our little yard.  Fall meant change, and change meant adventure.  Paradoxically, adventure and change also meant fear. I am a very shy person.  Although, shy is probably an understatement.  I have an intense aversion to meeting new people or for any kind of social interaction with people whom I haven't known for over 10 years.  This kinda puts a crimp in my social life (actually, in my whole life).

I don't like being this way.  Oh, I know that lots of people are "shy" but my shyness was crippling.  I was lucky, however, that one of my favorite activities was reading.  Specifically, reading fantasy novels.  I am of the firm belief that fantasy novels can teach you everything you need to know to be happy (I'll save the psychoanalytical implications of that for another post).  So, I found the answer to my social anxiety in a common trope of fantasy novels:

Fantasy Novel Lesson #24:  You've got to face your demons (literally - don't turn your back) and smack 'em down using your magical knobby stick that sprays glittery rainbow light and turns everything into teddy bears and unicorns!

Or in real world lingo: you've got to face your fears. Easier said than done.  But as I've aged (to the ripe old age of 26), I've come to realize that the more you face your fears, the less scary they become.  My quavering 16 year old self, vomiting her nerves out in the girl's bathroom before a three-minute class presentation could never have imagined that I would want to stand in front of 150 people a day for eight hours and talk.  I could never have imagined that what I've been most afraid of in my life could be the foundation of a career that is rewarding and fun.  

I still get anxious around people I don't know, but little by little I've faced and fought my fear.  I'm glad that people can grow and change, even if the change takes years and comes in tiny increments.  Although it's still a work in progress, improving at this is one of the things I'm proudest of.

What about you? What are you most proud of in your life? Do you think people can change? Or do you feel like it's fighting against nature? Also, what is your favorite season?