Even my son doesn’t understand, just how difficult it can be for me to go somewhere by myself. Even as myself wants to go, needs to go and some times actually does go, by myself. Which is what I did today.
Months back I joined a Jeep group. It is a local group that holds events for local charities and folks in need. They also go to great lengths to support local business. They actually got my attention Christmas of 2019 when they did they Toys for Tots Jeep parade. Seeing that had me thinking how cool would it be to participate in something such as that. When I sent in my request to join the group, it was accepted pretty quickly.
It was months however before I got up the nerve to go to an event. It was being held just a couple miles from where I live so I figured if I went, and didn’t enjoy myself, it would be easy enough to just leave and come home. I found out before the event that my son knew one of the members. Getting in contact with her, I knew there would be someone there for me to talk with. I did go, and did get the chance to speak with several of the members. It was a totally new experience for me, so I was trying to find my footing.
I’m still trying to find my footing.Not because of the group. I have found them to be an amazing group of people. It is my insecurities and fears that make it hard. How does one find a way to fit in, when you’ve never fit in? Even in the Jeep group, I’m a step out of sync. Most-not all- drive Wranglers, or Cherokee or the Gladiator. I drive a Compass. I love my Compass, her name is Star, but it really stands out in that line up. But, maybe that’s what makes her special. Besides, I won’t have to worry about lift kits or overly expensive tires or light bars. I do wish I could take the top off but one can’t have everything.
I have spent my life as one who wasn’t even close to that box labeled normal. I’ve dealt with bullies. I’ve dealt with being ignored. I’ve dealt with being ridiculed. I’ve dealt with not fitting in and not knowing how to champion that difference. I know, that I know, that I know, that God made me the way He planned. He loved me before I was ever born. He has a plan. I, simply have to learn to accept and make peace with that knowledge.
There was a Jeep event this afternoon. I’ve been to the location for prior events, so I knew the way. I planned on getting there as close to the beginning time as possible. I got ready. I washed the cat prints off Star’s hood. I got the dogs inside the house and I left for the event. On the way I had to pull over for a funeral procession. After it was past, I started again, reaching the location only about seventeen minutes after it had been scheduled to begin.
I parked-badly- at the far end of the row. There was nothing on the driver’s side to help guide me so I was more than a bit crooked. I tried several times to straighten up, and got better, but not perfect. It was fine until the others started showing up and the guy that went to park beside me had to stop before pulling all the way in. I pulled forward and backed again managing to finally get over far enough and straight enough to make it better.
I had gotten out of the car and walked up the rows of Jeep toward the far end, but the rain came. I went back to my Jeep and sat inside of her until the rains finally eased off.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t consider leaving. I knew the friend of mine and my son’s and her husband were not going to be there. That left me a bit adrift. When it stopped raining I got out and walked up the row of Jeeps. Most of which are named, some are tattooed with really cool designs.
I made a point of talking with people with dogs. Stoop down, pet the dogs, ask questions, look ma, I’m conversing. I talked to the people who does most of the decals for the jeep group, I talked with the creator of the group and her husband. I walked around for a bit, talking in what felt like sound bites. Struggling to come up with something that sounded half way intelligent. Or at least, that is what it felt like to me.
When I get fully involved in a conversation, I get fully involved in a conversation and my comments are not simply sharing of words, my entire body has to get in the act. I’m my own one person production. Its fine until you see the people looking around as if for a net. Thankfully no one appeared to be doing that today. Either that or they are better at being nonchalant about the search.
I started to leave several times, but each time some how or other I was stopped. I would remember something I needed to tell some one. A dog simply had to get that scratch behind the ears, or at one point, someone even called my name. I ended up being there right up until they decided to go for food. I passed on that. I went back to Star and waited until everyone had left out before I pulled out.
I drove home, completely, mentally, exhausted. Trying to be who you are and find footing among people who rarely see you and not have them call for that jacket that ties in the back, is not easy. The group is made up of a variety of personalities. People who are as individual as their Jeeps. Members of all age groups take part. I don’t know if any of them may have the same concerns as I have, or if its only me.
Everyone seemed to be having the best time ever. I had a good time. I enjoyed the time, but I was still exhausted. I think, that I stayed the entire time, because it was meant for me to stay. It is another step in the direction of my getting out of the house and back into the world. Even though, physically, I was by myself. I wasn’t. I wasn’t walking on water- but I was. I was stepping out in faith that I would manage to get through the event and see that I’m accepted as much as anyone. The fears, the hang ups, the insecurities that keep cropping up and preventing me from taking part in things, are all lies meant to hold me back.
Today, I shook that off and went. I stayed, I talked with a bunch of different people, I am pretty sure I made it without looking ridiculous, even if I did- it doesn’t matter. I am me. I am the me that God made. I am the me who is how He meant for me to be. I am not like anyone else for a reason. This event today, the going, the talking, the staying, I know, has made me stronger.
How difficult was it? Very. How glad am I that I went and stayed? You have no idea.