I enter my friend’s bedroom in search of a particular book. I know what the book looks like and it isn’t here. My friend comes in and finds it instantly.
It has been lying, face down, on her bedside locker. I had been looking for the green front cover that was so familiar to me so I hadn’t recognised its white back cover.
We muse over this. When I’m searching for something, I presume to know how it should look. So I’m not open to seeing it when it appears in a different form.
A while later, I want to read up on something else. My friend informs me that the book I need should be in the bookcase in the hall. I methodically scan the books on the shelves. My internal dialogue revs up.
The book is probably right here but you can’t even see it. You’re so unobservant. In your line of work, you should be more astute. And you’re a writer. Come on, Sharon. Find the book!
I give up. My friend suggests that the book could be on her bedside locker. I open the door, turn to the left and bend towards the locker. I am so focused on my task that I don’t notice what’s right in front of me. An entire human being!
My friend’s 18-year-old son stands facing me, with a small towel wrapped around his waist. I straighten immediately, tell him how sorry I am, and flee the room. My friend and I collapse with laughter when I describe what’s just happened.
I have been berating myself for not seeing what’s right in front of me. So it takes something big (a scantily clad human being) to show me the humour in it all. I can enjoy the moment and laugh at myself.
Last week, I started a course. On the first night, I was surprised at how quickly everybody opened up to one another. My fellow classmates were great speakers and excellent storytellers. I remained silent and listened with interest.
We broke for tea. Everyone continued chatting. I still hadn’t spoken. I noticed people looking at me curiously.
And I was okay with that. I didn’t care what anyone else thought of me. I understood that sometimes it takes me a little longer to feel comfortable around strangers.
Towards the end of the evening, I spoke up. I hadn’t rushed myself. This was the right time for me.
It may have taken me thirty-four years but I now accept myself for all of my strengths, struggles and idiosyncrasies. I accept my introverted tendencies. I accept the ditzy part of myself. I accept my inner critic.
And I accept that sometimes I’m so lost in thought that I don’t notice what’s right in front of me. Even if it is a half-naked man.