Last Thursday, I saw my daughter face the wall of fear.
It wasn't a physical rock wall. It was an invisible wall between her and a room full of people. We arrived at an early morning school meeting, and she didn't want to go in. There were too many people, and she didn't know what to expect. She started throwing out excuses about why she shouldn't go -
"What if we're too late?"
"What if I don't know anybody?"
We were already there and I knew she would like it, so I kept walking toward the door. She transitioned quickly into escape mode -
"You are so mean!"
"This is the scariest day of my life!"
We continued walking toward the door.
All of a sudden, she saw one of her friends.
I saw the wall of fear disappear just like that. She ran inside with her friend. Later she told me it was fun.
I wasn't trying to be mean when I was walking her toward the door in what seemed to her like a death march. I was trying to show her what was on the other side of the wall of fear. She's an introvert like I am, and I knew EXACTLY how she felt. I knew it was overwhelming. I knew she wanted to run. I have felt that way so many times. And I am always thankful for the people who don't let me run just because I feel afraid. Sometimes perfectly benign social situations can feel super intense for an introvert. Sometimes it takes someone else who can see what's on the other side of that fear to calmly walk us through that amorphous wall.
Has anyone ever done that for you?
(Here she is climbing another wall of fear. It actually was not as scary as going to a meeting full of people.)
Meredith M Howard is a photographer who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She was inspired to start THE STREETS magazine after many conversations with strangers in downtown Atlanta.