Two weeks ago I went to my friend Jimmy’s wedding to his high school and college sweetheart Mary. Before I flew in to Seattle from Billings where I am finishing an internship I felt strangely nervous, but at the same time very excited. Nervous because in December I will be graduating from college and moving back to Seattle, thus having to either find new friends or reconnect with old ones. Excited because I had an opportunity to reinvent myself and change people’s perception of who I am.
You see in high school I was not an outgoing or even a very approachable person. I was quite introverted and shy to the point that I’m pretty sure people that I was stuck up. Thus I never had a ton of friends and never was part of a big group of guys. But there was a group of guys that I had know since middle school and some from elementary school as well. They knew me too, were friendly and inviting, but I never felt totally comfortable. I didn’t have the self-confidence to be myself, in a way I didn’t feel good enough to be friends with them.
I had a lot of chances to create good friendships and have great high school memories. For one thing I played on the football team for three years and was constantly on the field or in the weight room with other guys with similar interests. But still I couldn’t commit to being myself and I never felt totally comfortable. I remember Coach B trying to give me advice about keeping my head up, literally to keep my head up when I walk and not look at the floor. The strange thing is everybody liked me, I had no problems with anybody; I was good at getting along with people. Still I felt like an outsider.
In college I gradually came out of my shell. I found passions I had, besides sports and athletics. I discovered that I really enjoyed learning. I began reading books (who would have thought reading could be enjoyable). I learned how to cook a decent meal. Personal discovery and getting better everyday is now a motto I live by everyday (and will probably write quite a lot about as well). With a lot of help from my girlfriend Amne, I discovered who I wanted to be and to not be afraid any more.
So when the time of the wedding rolled around I wanted to prove to myself, and to this group of guys that I knew were going to be there that I had changed and that I could be “one of the guys.” When Amne and I took our seats in the church, I noticed that the guys were all seated in front of us. Guess what, no nerves. After several head nods and smiles I knew it was going to be a fun night.
After the beautiful ceremony we all went outside and promptly found the ice cold beers, which were key, not for fun or conversation, but because it was probably 90 degrees out and we were all suited up (some of them were braver than me for wearing jackets). I felt complete confidence in myself as we all talked, unlike four years ago when I would shy away.
When we got into the reception area we were all assigned to the same table. It felt like PROM 2.0. It was all so nice and I appreciate how Jimmy and Mary went all out. Tons of food, beer, wine, pictures and laughs. A big upgrade from high school prom. Just cracking jokes and talking with that group made me realize what I was missing most of my life. I only alienated myself. I was welcome all the time. Fear told me I wasn’t good enough.
My first big test was when the dj started spinning and everyone got on the dance floor. I was never a big fan of high school dances, but this didn’t feel like that, it felt like a party, a celebration. A celebration first and foremost for my friends Jimmy and Mary, but also a personal celebration for myself for being an outgoing, fun person. So I threw caution to the wind and got down like everyone else. And it felt good. Genuinely good times with good people.
We partied from probably eight to eleven at night and not once did I feel uncomfortable or shy. I talked to all my old friends and people I slightly knew but would love to get to know better. I know now that I am worthy of friends and people’s time. I will never hold myself back again, from anything. I know now that I deserve what ever I want and am ready to create a fulfilling life doing things that make me happy.
That night felt like a new beginning for me, a chance to reinvent myself. At an after party, Matt, who has known me since I was maybe seven, commented on how I’ve changed. That felt good and built on my confidence a lot. I will always remember that night and know that It was a changing point in my life.