Want To Overcome Self-Consciousness? Take These 3 Small Steps

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I love it when I remember something I didn't even know I remembered.

Yesterday a crazy memory bubbled up from somewhere in my addled storage facility.

Years ago I took an evening art class -- Watercolor Painting. (Sometimes I wish I were British so I could type Watercolour. Isn't that classy? And I'd say "Whilst" too. And "Zed." And "I chatted him up in the tube because I fancied him." And "Wanker.")

But anyway...

I took this Watercolor class, and we sat two-by-two at tables. I usually sat with a woman my age -- which wasn't old then because it was a long time ago -- but it wasn't exactly young either. But once in a while I sat next to a young guy. (a young "bloke" -- I really want to be British. Can I be British as a New Year's Resolution? Like "I resolve to be thinner; I resolve to be neater; I resolve to be British.)

This kid was a nice kid. But we were both intent on painting, not chatting, so I can't say that I got to know him. I'm not even sure that I remember what he looked like, except that he had an army jacket. Of course, I can't think of one young guy that age who didn't wear an army jacket. (A chap in a clobber.... I would be SO good at British.)

Well, anyway (again)...

One night we had a very good painting session, although I can't for the life of me remember what we were painting. This memory that has bubbled up is not heavy on the background detail. But I'd say it was the ocean. Or maybe a lot of sky. Everyone's cup of paint-water was blue.

And when it came time to clean up, as usual there was a crowd at the only sink in the room. My young bloke was all picked up and back in his army jacket, and still no sink-time.

So he said to me, "Whatever..."

And he took his cup of blue water and drank it down. And strolled out.

The reason this is interesting to me goes back to New Year's Resolutions.

I resolve -- Blimey, not to be British -- but to be less self-conscious.

I am painfully self-conscious about the way I look and sound and how others perceive me.

I don't think self-consciousness is necessarily all bad. Caring about how the world sees you can help you take good care of yourself. And think before you speak. And that's a good thing.

But I see folks every day who are self-conscious about silly things. (And I am one of them.) People who are embarrassed because they can't carry a tune, or they think they look bad in a bathing suit. Or they are sure they're too clumsy for Yoga.

I think I should be more self-conscious about complimenting and thanking people. Putting in a good effort in my job. Smiling more.

But I want to lose some of the useless self-consciousness.

Things that adults worry about but children never do.

Children don't care about things not worth caring about.

Who cares if you drink the paint-water?

Here's three small specific Resolutions for the New Year:

1. The next time I see an icy patch on the sidewalk or in the parking lot at work, I will not walk around or gingerly-and-oh-so-carefully inch my way across. I am SLIDING. This morning I saw a kid sliding back and forth across an iced-over puddle while waiting for the school bus. Remember how much fun that was? I'm DOING it, and in high heels maybe.

2. I sing in the car. I LIKE to sing in the car. From now on, I will not halt my car-concert because some dude pulls up next to me. I'm SINGING. At the traffic light, the stop-sign, and in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Get ready for some noise. I'm DOING it.

3. I will not worry about what sounds emanate from me in the ladies' room. Everyone knows what I am doing in there. I will not wait until the person in the next stall leaves. I have business to do, and I'm DOING it. I may make a little noise.


Read more from Nancy on her blog, Not Quite Old.

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