I’m Not Josie Grossie Anymore… ?

We’ve been in Killeen with the youth group for two weeks now, and I’ve been resisting panic as I’ve been flooded with vivid memories of my own high school experience. I didn’t really make much of a splash in high school; I was always most content when I was propping up a wall with one or two friends, enjoying the antics of the self-confident from afar. Although I still have to actively resist my wallflower tendencies, I’ve felt as though I’ve achieved significant personal growth in this area in the years since graduation.

Unfortunately, it just takes a few minutes in the youth room on Sunday morning to bring all of my worst social habits back into play. Although I know that I should be the confident adult, introducing myself to students and expressing a sincere interest in their lives, I still find myself wanting to squeeze between the soda machines and watch the ping-pong matches in peace. Or, if I’m really bold, maybe I’ll sit down next to the girl who reminds me of myself in high school (slightly unkempt hair, shirt buttoned up too high, slightly defensive standoffish manner) and ask her what she’s been reading lately.

I’ve tried for the last two days to reason with myself. I was very blessed by adults who befriended me when I was in high school, and I feel, in a pay-it-forward kind of way, that I owe it to God to do the same thing for lost and lonely youth now that I am older. Besides, what do I have to be afraid of? My hair and clothes are almost always attractive and appropriate. I have physical indicators of success- husband, job, house, car, dogs. I have vast amounts of wisdom and experience that I could share with these impressionable youth. And yet I can’t seem to shake my sixteen-year-old self, cowering behind my I Love Lucy day planner in the face of these girls with their boisterous laughter and slightly manic energy.

I’m still debating whether I’ll try to stick it out or find my true calling rocking other people’s babies in the infant nursery instead. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the easy company of my fourth grade pals during the week, relaxing in their uncomplicated and easy-to-win affection.

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4 responses to “I’m Not Josie Grossie Anymore… ?

  1. Carolyn Dickinson

    I SO relate to this! When I was a kid I was not comfortable in my own social group…give me a group of adults to talk to any day. However, when pressed, I was always the president or secretary of any group I was in (my Type A personality won the confidence of socialites who didn’t know how to take notes). So, I was known for leadership but actually was socially shy with my peers. College helped with this disability when I consciously made myself be outgoing…and I had a great time and lots of friends!

    As an adult, I’ve often felt the need to pretend interest in a function or group where I was uncomfortable. The old “fake it till you make it” line comes into play. I must say, though, that if I fake interest in someone or something, I usually really do become interested in said person or thing; there’s always something to learn in relationships and interactions with others.

    Don’t hide in the nursery! Go for the personal growth!! You’re awesome and have a lot to give others.

  2. I understand your pain, Linds. Working with Young Life kids is very intimidating to me and I still feel like I have to be cool to get the approval of a group of 17-year-old girls. Maybe once I’m actually a college graduate I’ll just automatically morph into relationship Laura. Good luck.

  3. Yep, it’s a lot the same with college students. I think it’s just hard for the first few weeks. Once you get to know everyone, you won’t feel that discomfort. So throw yourself out there for a few weeks and take some kids out to lunch or something and you’ll feel like they are just regular ol’ friends within a month.

  4. I too can totally relate! When we were going to host SPARK (disciple now), I was so afraid of getting high school girls because I didn’t feel like they would “like me” or “think I was cool”. As if it should matter if a bunch of high schoolers like me. I should be confident enough in myself as a 25 year old woman, right? One thing that helps me though when I am trying to relate to students is to just ask a lot of questions. I think they like to talk about themselves. And then they think you care because you are interested enough to find out about their lives. When I was intimidated about SPARK, Cliff reminded me that me (you too) are what a lot of high schoolers look up to/want to be, women who drive, graduated college and are married and have real jobs, that seems so cool to them…I remember being 16 and thinking that. Of course I was also supposed to be a cheerleader and homecoming queen, but that part of my plan didn’t quite work out…

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