Whenever I go to the shops, and I'm standing over the POS machine.
When the cashier says " That'll be $42.70."
And I say " Just on eftpos please. "
When I slot my card into the machine, select the account and type in my pin.
In the small space of time while the little screen says 'processing'.
I always, always feel really awkward.
Should I look at the machine? Because I don't want to come across as being too eager, waiting for the machine to say ' approved ' -- like I'm crossing my fingers and toes it'll work..
Should I look at the attendant? Smile and make the awkward pause seem twice as long while neither of us says anything?
Usually.. I pretend that my wallet has something interesting in it, or needs re-arranging or simply needs to be zipped back up.
Yesterday, when this happened for the bazillionth time, I actually accidentally dropped my wallet on the linoleum. And I was thankful I had a decent excuse not the feel awkward, because I legitimately had something to fill in those few seconds between processing and approved.
' Woops' I said, as I bent down and picked it up. And the thought crossed my mind that I should pretend drop my wallet from now on because it wasn't as awkward as standing awkwardly waiting for everything to process.
Which is ridiculous.
But it got me thinking. How many social restraints do we put on ourselves because of how we think others are perceiving us?
The other week when Simone came to visit we were sitting on the bench next to one another while Flynn and Boy played at the park.
She said she always felt she was suppose to look at her phone while she was waiting for him to finish playing, because she needed to seem busy.
Which is the exact opposite of the pressure I feel when I go to the park. I feel, I am not allowed to look at my phone, that I must constantly watch Boy and be an active participant ( from the park bench ) by watching his every move or people will think I'm a bad parent ( this has something to do with my age / how young I look)
Why am I always doing things to try and appeal to the way I want / think others perceive me?
Why can't I just sit and watch or go on my phone or play with Boy and not feel awkward every step of the way because I am worried about what other people are thinking.
And the logical truth is, I know that nobody is thinking about me. I know that people don't care. That they're so involved in their own selves they probably don't even notice what I am doing.
So why do I continue to feel so awkward?
So I went to the hairdresser on Saturday, ( I loathe going to the hairdresser ) it always presents yet another situation for utter awkwardness.
Two people. A long period of time. A mirror. Touching from a complete stranger. If I didn't find it so frightening I'd find it hilarious.
Luckily, I had decided to just walk in to a random hairdresser and get, come what may, whom ever I got. I have no loyalty to hairdressers. Except to Craig.
First awkward situation, hair washing.
Do I look at the ceiling? Do I shut my eyes and enjoy it? Do I talk to the assistant who is leaning so close to me, I can feel her breath on my face as she scrubs and washes.
I resign to look at the down light. Her jaw line an out of focus fuzz as I look directly up like a glazed zombie.
Thankfully, the hairdresser was not one to begin awkward conversation. So the next hour was only filled with " head back please, head forward please, is this length good?
I relaxed because I didn't need to fill the next hour with painstakingly awkward small talk with a stranger.
And for this first time at the hairdresser, I actually looked at myself in the mirror. I mean, really looked at myself.
Usually, I don't want to seem on my self, and I avoid.. at all cost, looking at myself.
I looked at the shade of my skin, the slightness of my wrists resting on the arms of the chair, the blue hue of my eyes. The ashy brown of my hair colour. The plumpness of my lips.
And I realised, for the first time in my life. That I could actually be pretty. In 25 years I have looked at my self most mornings, with make-up in hand : trying to desperately fix the flaws but never really looking at myself. Never noticing the good stuff. Only the stuff that needed to be fixed.
For the first time in years I didn't cry about my haircut, I didn't whinge afterwards about how horrible it was.
I simply rejoiced in the newness of it all.
I felt a completely different person.
Liberated. Genuinely confident. And like, through all the awkwardness I should just be myself. I could be myself. The possibilities are endless.