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When you feel awkward and out of place

Nothing holds you back more than your own insecurities

Last week, a local blogger graciously invited me to go to a local Wine & Dine Event being hosted by StitchFix.

I’ve wanted to get to know more about StitchFix ever since a number of friends started raving about the service the past year and it sounded like a great way to get to meet some local bloggers, so I accepted the invitation.

And then I realized what I’d done.

What was I thinking?? Introverted me accepting an invitation to spend all evening with a bunch of people I don’t know??

And not only that, but did I mention that StitchFix is a company that sends you a box of clothing/jewelry based upon your fashion preferences?!? When I realized that, I wasn’t just stressed about being in tight quarters all evening with people I didn’t know at all, but then I started panicking over what on earth I would wear!!

Knowing the kind of event it was and who was hosting it, I was sure everyone would probably wear cute cocktail dresses and adorable jewelry. They probably dress like that most all the time and wouldn’t even think twice about what they were going to wear.

Me, on the other hand? I pretty much only wear jeans, t-shirts, maxi dresses, and yoga pants. {Yup, I SUCH a fashionista. Gulp.}

So yeah, I was kind of concerned about what I was going to wear. Adding to the anxiety was the fact that we’d just gotten home from our trip to the SheSpeaks conference the night before and basically everything in my current “cute clothing” repertoire needed to be washed.

{There are blessings and curses to having a minimalist wardrobe! :)}

I realized all of this right before I was supposed to leave… which is never a good thing.

After about 30 minutes of effort, I finally pulled an outfit together that I was happy with, got dressed, fixed my hair, and jumped into the car.

I looked at the time and looked at Google Maps and realized I would just barely make it on time.

Whew! Crisis averted.

I took a deep breath and then saw the gas gauge.

Yikes! I only had enough gas left in the tank to get a few miles. Never mind on getting there right on time, now I was going to have to stop and get gas.

I started to feel all uptight again. And then it got worse as I realized I’ve never gotten gas in either vehicle since we’ve lived here in TN and I had no clue where the best/nearest gas station was.

{I know that might seem really absurd. But want to know a random fact about me? I basically never ever put gas in our vehicles. Jesse always does it for me because he loves to! Yes, I’m spoiled!}

In the process of being so intensely focused on trying to remember where the nearest gas station is to our house here in TN, I made a wrong turn and got stuck in rush hour traffic.

This was not going well.

I finally made it to the gas station only to realize that I’d left my debit card at home. I rarely ever swipe my debit card (I’m a cash-only gal as much as is humanly possible… which is pretty much all the time!), so I didn’t even think to bring it.

But now not having it was going to add even extra time to my already-running-quite-late ticker. Argh!

I ran up to the kiosk to pay, hurriedly plunked down two $20 bills, and waited impatiently for the cashier to finish ringing up my pre-pay gas purchase. Then he looked at me and asked puzzled, “Did you mess with the gas pump? Because the one you’re pulled up to looks like something’s messed up with it and it’s not working.”

For real? I didn’t know whether to cry or shriek at this point. But I held it together while he sent a mechanic out to fix the gas pump.

He was able to fix it quickly, I got the tank filled up, and finally, finally, finally, I was on my way again — by now running almost 20 minutes late.

Truthfully, I sincerely considered texting my friend to back out of the event. I hated to walk in so late — especially because I had no idea what the set-up would be and knew that walking in 20 minutes late could be really rude.

But at the same time, I had already worked so hard to get out the door and on the road, I figured it was too late to turn back now. So instead, I took many deep breaths, prayed for God to go before me and prayed that it would all work out and not be conspicuous for me to walk in late, and then I texted my friend to let her know I was going to be running late.

She was so gracious and told me that it was no big deal at all. I took more deep breaths, prayed some more, found the venue where the event was being hosted, and gathered up my courage to walk in the door, and pretend I’m not an introvert.

The evening was nothing like I expected. Yes, there were many cute dresses and adorable jewelry all around. Yes, the room was packed with mostly people whom I didn’t know at all. And yes, it seemed like everyone else knew most of the others and felt completely in their comfort zone.

In the past, any one of these things would have been enough to cause me to hyperventilate and feel completely awkward and out of place. And at first, that’s exactly how I felt.

But then I remembered my new mantra of fully embracing life, so I forced myself to tune out the voices of insecurity and doubt in my head telling me all sorts of lies about I didn’t fit in this group or that I was an outsider. Instead, I decided to look for someone to bless and encourage.

Nothing Holds You Back More Than Your Own Insecurities

Guess what? I ended up having a great time! The evening was filled with meeting new people, in-depth heart-to-heart conversations, great food, and lots of laughter. And when the event was winding down, I didn’t want to leave.

I’m so glad I didn’t say no to the invitation, even though it was out of my comfort zone. I’m so glad I didn’t turn around and chicken out when I was running so behind. And I’m so glad I got over myself and my own silly insecurities and awkwardness and chose to focus on other people instead.

I would have missed out on a beautiful and fun evening. Also? The success of how the experience turned out gives me courage to continue to keep stepping outside my comfort zone, to continue to tune out the voices or insecurity, and to remember to focus on other people the next time I feel awkward and out of place.

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86 Comments

  • Jennifer says:

    Aaaww! Hugs!! What a sweet and inspiring story. I bet there were lots of other women there who were having the same initial feelings you were 🙂 Good work!

    • Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement!

      • Beth says:

        Crystal, I wanted to let you know that this post really spoke to me. We just moved to Greenville, SC last month and I have been struggling with meeting new people/putting myself out there. I always feel awkward in social situations and am almost painfully shy, and my husband and I knew that with this move we would have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and get out there and meet people. If not for our own sakes – for the sake of our kiddos.

        I met a few nice ladies at our neighborhood pool this week, and they invited me to take the kiddos to a dollar movie with them this morning and then play at the pool with them again afterwards. I said yes, but was really contemplating telling them I wasn’t going to be able to make it. It’s just SO exhausting to think about spending a full day with a group of girls that I don’t know and that all already know each other. But I read your post this morning – and decided to keep my word and take the kids.

        We ended up having a great time and I was invited to attend a weekly bible study that starts in a few weeks …. I was also invited to a ladies retreat they’re all attending. They made me feel welcome and were so kind. I think I met some people that will end up becoming close friends. I’m so grateful to you for being transparent and sharing with us your struggles with feeling awkward – I think it speaks to so many. It definitely spoke to me.

        I thank God for you! 🙂

        • Aw, this comment just MADE MY DAY!!! I’m so very proud of you and so excited for you! Thank you for sharing!

        • Lana says:

          I live in Spartanburg! My daughter and her family live in the Greenville area. Our SIL is one of the pastor’s at Redeeming Grace Church which meets at the hotel behind the big Michelin building on Pelham Rd. There are lots of young families and caring people there. I know they would welcome your family. I hope you get settled in and love this area as much as we do.

  • Jennifer St. Jean says:

    I’m so proud of you! You don’t know me but you inspire me with every post!!

  • Annie says:

    What are questions you ask to “go deep” with people you just met? I don’t know where to start…

    • I usually just start by asking about themselves and then I listen for details they share that I could ask followup questions on. I’ve found that when you listen well, are genuinely interested, and ask followup questions, people tend to open up, which then allows for even more followup questions and deeper conversations.

  • Amy says:

    Thank you for being sooooo open and sharing this! This sounds like exactly how my life goes. I normally quit and run away but am really working on taking a deep breathe, not making the struggle such a life shattering experience, and keep pushing on. Thank you for the encouragement .. and for just being real. It’s sooo easy to tell ourselves we are the only ones that don’t have it all together.

  • Rebecca says:

    Plus, you get to share your experiences (which I laughed about – love your genuine writing) and bless us! You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your life (and the ups and downs) with us.

  • Tam Hodge says:

    That’s my girl!

    Seriously, I am SO proud of you, friend!!!

  • Tara G. says:

    I have moments where I feel like I’m channeling my awkward teenage self. Rejoicing with you! So…are you signed up for a Stitchfix box?! 🙂

    • Tara G. says:

      Ok, so not rejoicing that you felt awkward, but that you had a great time! 🙂

      • I got what you meant! 😉

        And I’ve done one fix awhile back… it was so-so, but they gave me a lot of great tips on how to fill out my profile better so I can get a fix that is more than so-so. I’m thinking of trying it again and maybe blogging about my experience. We’ll see!

    • Jody says:

      Lol Tara! I also often feel like I’m channeling my akward teenage self! Great way to describe it:).

  • Kristina says:

    This is just what I needed tonight. Thanks so much! Good for you for being brave!

  • Debbie says:

    Thank you so much ! This is why I continue to read your blog. You help us by talking about the things most of us live everyday. You are an inspiration!

  • Jen Hen says:

    I completely know what you mean! Thank you for the encouraging words! Much of the time I feel like the odd person out b/c I’m into gardens and chickens instead of clothes and electronics, but it’s nice when our differences can make interesting conversation and new friends.

    • If we ever meet, I want to hear all about your gardens and chickens! I grew up with gardens and chickens and am always excited when I find someone who loves talking about them!

  • Cyndy Campbell says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m going to think of this the next time I have to attend a social event with many people I don’t know. I believe this post will help me to remember to focus on others.

  • Yaz says:

    Wow, what a great post. You know I’m still somewhat new to your blog, but I find myself coming back more and more because I always find something valuable on your site. And reading this, I can see to top it all off, you have a great spirit. Thanks for this post, and for your blog and all the helpful information you share with moms.

  • Aww!! I’m sorry you were stressed out leading up to the event. I know I always have to force myself to get out of my comfort zone and yet, I always have fun 🙂 hehe

  • theresa says:

    I love the fact that you didn’t bail at the gas station…..I would have gotten gas and headed home!!!!
    I love reading your posts and am trying to use some of your ideas in my life. So far they really are making a difference;!!

  • Jody says:

    I LOVE your advice to find someone to bless and encourage. I often feel very akward and end up just concentrating on how out of place I feel and not having as good of a time as I could. This reminded me of an excercise my husband and I did at a marriage mentoring thing. The facilitators had us look into each others eyes for thirty seconds or a minute or something. Then they said ok do it again and this time pray for your spouse think good things about them and it was a totally different experience when our thoughts were on the other person instead of ourselves. I go a lot of places with my son in a wheelchair and I often feel out of place…I’m doing gtube feeds, changing diapers, getting him in and out of his walker and feel like everyone is watching and I’m fumbling around. I am going to start making it a point to not think about myself and wondering what others are thinking of us and instead concentrate on being a blessing and encouragement to someone else! I think that will really help! I’m excited to put it into practice! Thanks for another great post with a great life changing lesson 🙂

    • Kim says:

      I know what your talking about though not to the extent you have to go thru. My husband is in a wheelchair and I am a huge introvert I have to really work on blocking out what I THINK others are thinking and that they are watching us and concentrate on him and then I feel bad for the feelings because at least I can get up and walk and he can’t.

      • These comments just broke my heart… I am so sorry for the burdens both of you are carrying and how it’s a struggle to be in certain situation. However, I do want you to know that there are many people like me who would might not be able to understand what it would be like to walk in your shoes, but we still would love for exactly who are you and would love to get to know you.

  • Having you there was such a highlight for me. I am SO glad you didn’t text and say you weren’t going to come. I thought you were “fashionably late.” 🙂 Love you!

  • Marie says:

    Insecurity is what tries t rob me in friendships. Sunday was a hard day with this. When something happens in one friendship insecurity tries to rob you of the other friendships you know are ok. By the end of the day I had to really work to pull myself out of the pit and realize that even if this one friend needed a change it didn’t mean changes in my other relationships. I’m so glad you were able to go to the event and experience such joy!! You’ll have to let me know how stixfix goes for you. I tried 3 fixes but nothing worked so I stopped.

    • I’m so sorry you had a hard day with relationships. 🙁 {Hugs!}

      The gal from Stitch Fix gave me some tips on how to get much better results with your fixes, so I’m going to give them a try again. One thing she mentioned was being extremely detailed in your descriptions and to set up a Pinterest board with wardrobe ideas and share the link to that with them.

      I’m planning to try it again and blog my experiences and whether I thought it was worth it or not, etc.

  • Lucy says:

    I am enjoying the turn that your blog has taken, with more of the honest-vulnerability behind the blogger. I think that’s so helpful for women to see other women being real. Thank you!

  • Libby says:

    Good for you!! So glad you ended up having a marvelous time! I had a similar experience with my husbands “done his first year of being a LEO bbq” a requirement for all rookies. While I had met some of his partners I had not met all and struggle sometimes with hosting and hospitality with people I do not know. It worked out well as we opened up the invitation to our friends as well, and I came to find that having even just one friend can make all the difference with nerves!

  • Lana says:

    You are wise beyond your years. Knowing that I needed to focus on others instead of myself did not become a part of me until I was 40 something. What a blessing that is for you!

  • Ashley M. says:

    Being late gives me such anxiety that just reading what you went through tied my stomach in knots and made me feel exactly the same way you must have been feeling… yuck!

    I get really nervous hanging out with people I don’t know and feel like I’ll be the most awkward person in the room. Good for you for fighting through those feelings and enjoying yourself!

    mommaofthreeblog.blogspot.com

  • Kim says:

    I am also an introvert and just thinking of being outside my comfort zone makes me want to head for the bed and hide under the covers. I never had issues in my professional life I guess I felt very confident in my abilities there. Now I’m a homeschool mom of three and feel so insecure in that. All those things and feelings you had happen would happen to me also:) So glad you embraced life fully…hopefully I will remember this the next time I’m in a similar situation. Thanks for all your encouragement. (Even responding to this is making me anxious).

  • Joy says:

    LOL. My dh almost always puts gas in my vehicle, too. I dread doing it on days I actually have to. We have a store loyalty card that gives us gas points and for whatever reason we only have one big card between the two of us. Otherwise, we have to use the key fob card. Well you can only use the big card at pump. If you have just key card you have to pay inside. Well guess who always has the big card? Yup, you guessed it …dh. I hate paying inside.

    I, too, am an introvert and unfamiliar social situations cause me great anxiety. I was never this way until after I had kids. I recently turned down going to a 31 party because I didn’t know any of the other guests and barely knew the hostess. As others said I got anxious just reading this post. LOL.

  • This is me so often. I don’t want to go. I don’t know what to wear. I go in, feeling extremely awkward, then I have fun. I don’t know why I don’t just skip the anxiety part 😀

  • denise says:

    Oh that must have been hard but I am so impressed and inspired by you. I have been in similar situations and have chosen to give up and go home when I realize I needed to put gas in the car and would be late. That seemed like the final straw. I also feel so awkward but I am trying to outgrow it as I try to help my 13 year old daughter through it. Now I can tell myself and her, if Crystal can, so can we. and I loved the idea of finding someone to bless and encourage.

    • Yes! Let’s do this together — you, me, your 13-year-old, and all these other brave and beautiful women here who struggle with insecurity, introvertness, and everything in-between! {Hugs!}

  • karen b says:

    first I want to say I am totally enjoying your openness that you are sharing lately, so much of it I can relate to 🙂 thanks so much………..

    next I had to laugh that you never get gas……I actually do more driving than my hubby (He owns a dairy farm, so most of the time on the farm) so I would be flat out of luck if I relyed on him to get my gas….YES I get most of our gas not my favorite thing to do but you do what you got to do 🙂

    so glad that you went & enjoyed yourself 🙂

  • Julie W says:

    Thank you for posting this! It couldn’t have come at a better time. Our daughter just got engaged(last week!) and his parents invited us over for dinner next weekend. This is the first time my husband and I will be meeting them. I’m very shy/introverted and am already extremely nervous & having anxiety. I worry so much of what they will think of me, am afraid things will get awkward and the list goes on….. Your post and the comments have been very encouraging to read 🙂 Love your blog too!

  • Beth says:

    I realize it’s a little tangential, but I’d love to hear what you think about Stitch Fix!

    • I’m hoping to try them out again and do a review on whether or not I think they are worth the money and what my experience was. They gave me some tips and suggestions that I’m excited to try out!

      • Beth says:

        I’m looking forward to your review and the tips! I have yet to take the plunge because I’m not really one to “spruce” up my wardrobe and it doesn’t seem to be the sort of thing that is in my budget. However, the idea of having someone else pick out the items and do the shopping sounds amazing. I guess if I took the plunge it would have to be a splurge purchase that I saved up for– not as practical as wheat kernels, but probably more fun!

  • Susie says:

    Great post. Thank you!! Random question, but wondering if you will try Stich Fix? I see so many bloggers trying it 🙂

    • I’ve tried them out once and only had a so-so experience, not worth posting about since I wasn’t convinced it was worth the money. However, since a number of you are asking and supposedly they’ve improved quite a bit since I first tried them, I’m planning to try again and do an honest review of my experience.

  • Rachelle says:

    I needed this today! We just moved to Mooresville, NC and it’s so hard for me to put myself out there. I panic at the thought of groups of people that I don’t know. I noticed the library was having a group that sounded interesting, but I decided that I was too chicken to go. I think I’ll give it a try now!

  • Lesley says:

    So what did you think of stitch fix?

    • I’ve tried them out once and only had a so-so experience, not worth posting about since I wasn’t convinced it was worth the money. However, since a number of you are asking and supposedly they’ve improved quite a bit since I first tried them, I’m planning to try again and do an honest review of my experience.

  • Tammy Mundy says:

    You described me to a T!!!! The voices of insecurity are our own worst enemies but I continually listen to them. Ahhhh!!! I hope I can push myself like you do and keep learning from each experience. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Michelle says:

    Aren’t StitchFix Clothes really pricey?

    • It depends upon what you consider “pricey”. If you typically shop at garage sales and thrift stores, then yes, they would definitely be what I’d consider to be pricey. However, if you need to buy quality clothes for work or dressy occasions, I’ve been told that their prices could be pretty reasonable — especially if you stick with the lowest budget options they offer.

      I’m going to try them out again myself and report back on my experience and whether I think this could be a reasonable option for those who don’t like to mess with shopping but need to dress nice for work or other occasions. Expect an honest review coming soon!

  • Courtney says:

    Thanks for writing this. Your honesty is awesome. I can relate so much, not only to this post but to the comments that have been made. I always feel like such an anxious dork in unfamiliar situations. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who experiences this anxiety!

  • Megan says:

    I really appreciate the content of this post as well….it really speaks to me. I will carry “find someone to bless and encourage” with me, what a wonderful way to get over myself when I’m feeling insecure.
    Please let me beg and plead with you to never text and drive. No matter the reason, it’s not worth it! You are valuable to so many people and we’d all be sad if something happened just because you were texting someone to let them know you’re late. I’m not trying to be negative, I promise my concern comes from a caring place.

  • Cotille says:

    You are adorable.
    xoxo

    PS. I asked a stylist to dress me for the event.

    PPS. I was totally nervous to meet everyone and had an endless cycle of what ifs running through my head all day…. “What if they don’t like me?” “What if they get bored?” “What if they think the event is dumb?”

    PPPS. I had an incredible time, was shocked and overjoyed at the turnout, and also did not want the night to end.

    <3

  • Andrea says:

    Thank you so much for your words! I just started a new job this week and the insecurities have definitely run rampant, but I am trusting God’s voice over that voice to get me through the days. Your own story and words are a great encouragement!

  • Lenore says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! Just what I needed to hear.

  • mariah says:

    We just moved to a new area. I’ve been praying God would use me. I’m extremely shy and don’t feel I have the gift of hospitality. Actually, I have yet to discover any gifts I might have. BUT…I’ve been trying to “Crystal Paine” my life and punch fear in the face. So, I started a homeschool group. Ha…I’ve been here for a little over 4 months. This week my neighbor spoke kind words to me about how she loves that our family moved to the neighborhood and that she sees a wonderful community that we are influencing.

    I was SO shocked to hear that. Me? Influencing a neighborhood? Building community? Getting neighbors to connect? This shy girl? Lol…God is so good. Love this website!

  • Donna says:

    I admire your courage Crystal. It’s hard being an introvert, but love how encouraging you are. Thank you!

  • Cheri says:

    I laughed so hard when you said you pretended not to be an introvert, because that’s exactly how I feel in those situations, too. But it’s worse to stand awkwardly on the sidelines than to make the effort to connect with someone!

  • Gina says:

    Been reading and following for awhile. Thinking it’s very possible you might be my long lost sister! 😊 ha! Man, do I ever struggle with this! Thanks so much for these encouraging words!!

  • Johnnell says:

    Thank you Crystal. I am an introvert as well. I’m starting a new job in a week and have been feeling like I might not fit in. Please pray for me. I have been feeling very insecure lately and have been dealing with some difficult circumstances. Your post has definitely encouraged me. Thanks you so much for being transparent.

  • Amber Wildebrandt says:

    I really relate to your story. I’m the exact same way. I find myself more often than not talking myself out from those kind of situations because of my fears and I always regret it later. I applaude you for taking the risk as I so often don’t.

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