Since Vance died, I’ve struggled with some really obvious things but also some things I had no idea would be so hard.
One of those has been walking in to the kids’ sporting events alone. Driving myself to games, paying the gate fee and then trying to decide where to sit has caused way more anxiety than I ever imagined. I’m not sure why that is. I walk into church without the least bit of anxiety and have since almost the very beginning.
I’m not exactly an introvert. I’ll talk your ear off if you let me. But I’m also not as confident as you might imagine. Every single time I walk alone into a game venue, I have no idea where to sit.
I usually stand, almost paranoid, while I search for not just familiar, but friendly faces. I see groups of friends, already sitting and talking and like a junior high girl trying to decide which lunch table to sit at, I have no idea if they’ll accept me. Am I unwelcome in breaking into their group? Do they want me? Should I just sit over in the corner by myself? What if I sit down and no one talks to me?
This happens even with people I know will welcome me. People who have been nothing but kind. Friends, even. There’s just something about this particular activity that freezes me up like a ninth grade boy wanting to ask a pretty girl to dance. It’s way harder than it should be.
For my high school kids’ fall sports I figured out how to make it work. Most of the time I had a good friend or two that I knew would be there and I either rode with them or planned to meet up with them. That helped a lot for away games. Home football games, though? They tensed me up like my kids’ first time driving on the interstate. So many places to sit. So many people to walk by. Post season, I finally made plans with to sit with a friend and it eased my anxiety so much, just knowing that I wouldn’t have to sit alone.
Now cross country and football are over. Middle school wrestling has begun and high school meets are just around the corner. Once again, I have to figure out a plan. Who can I ride with? Where can I sit? I already have anxiety about it and I haven’t even had to go to a meet alone yet.
So, I guess what I’m saying is if you’re going to a middle school, high school boys or high school girls meet this season and see me standing in the doorway of the gym, smile at me under your mask and if it’s okay, wave me over. Because I’m gonna need that reassurance all over again. Because walking in all alone is harder than it should be.