Tomorrow, I am going to the Segullah Writer's Retreat. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Segullah, it's an organization for literary LDS women with two basic forums: an online blog and a print journal. I only discovered it a few months ago, but I have loved the community I found there: smart, articulate women who share similar interests. When I found out about the retreat, I was thrilled--here was a chance to meet in real time with a community the likes of which I haven't found since graduate school.
Since then, however, nerves have set in. Oh, don't get me wrong: I'm still excited and I'm still going, but I've also been fighting a plaguing sense of social inferiority that I haven't dealt with in a long time (since we left Pennsylvania three years ago, most of my social time has been spent with family, and in our new area I've had the luxury of meeting my neighbors mostly one on one, a social event I can handle). But this? I feel a little bit like the kid in elementary school waiting to get picked for dodgeball teams--I have a sneaking suspicion I may get picked last (I usually was), but I can't help hoping for better. Or, for another painful analogy, like the teenage girl at a dance, hanging by the wall with her friends, waiting to get asked to dance. (Or, like me, finding an excuse to leave the room when slow songs started--for some reason I was always thirsty!--so that I wouldn't have to face those painful moments of anticipation for an event that, in all likelihood, wouldn't happen).
I'm not quite sure how it happens that I can be 33 years old, married, a mother of two delightful children, with a handful of degrees (three, if you're curious: BA, MA, PhD), and still be fighting demons of insecurity. Wasn't I supposed to outgrow this with those skin blemishes from adolescence? (Oh, right, I haven't quite outgrown those either). It's true that I'm much more comfortable in my skin than I was as a teenager, which gives me some hope for the future, but I wonder if I will ever reach a point where I don't care at all what other people think of me. (What if I'm too nerdy? What if my clothes are wrong? What if I'm not really as smart as I sometimes like to think I am). And what is the trick to not caring?
At any rate, I'll find out tomorrow if my fears are well-grounded, or if, as my husband says, I'm just creating monsters where none really exist.