Tuesday evening I took a cab to the home of a British diplomat to have drinks and appetizers with the UK Secretary of Agriculture and other random people wearing suits. We had curry, in case you were wondering.
I bought a new dress. I bought new shoes. It is downright embarrassing to admit how worked up I was over the whole ordeal. I had no idea what to expect, and somehow that alone convinced me nothing in my closet would work. Nothing I owned would look right on House of Cards—which, in my mind, was how everyone would be dressed.
When I asked my friend Erica if I could borrow a black clutch (because Lord forbid I bring my orange one), she lightly told me, “Kara, I think you may be overthinking this.”
Um, you think?
If you want to know my version of a complete f#$*ing NIGHTMARE, this was it. Give me an invitation that reads, Attire: Business dress, throw me into packed room where I don’t know a soul, and tell me to make small talk with people wearing suits. That will spin me into a dimension of anxiety hell.
“Just go and have fun. I wish I were going. See what it’s about, and if it’s that bad—bounce!” Erica told me.
Fun? My idea of fun is drinking a Bud Light with my brother. My idea of fun is making brunch for my friends. My idea of fun is going to yoga with my inappropriate yoga instructor (which I MISSED for this, mind you). Good grief I don’t even own a pair of jeans without holes in them. [I did have one pair, but the crotch ripped out of those last week. So that was the end of that.]
I did not go to have fun. I put on heels of death and wore more makeup than I’ve worn all of 2016 for one reason, and one reason only: Because a wise girl once told me, if something scares you, you better do it.
I “met” Meg Doll two years ago when I interviewed her for Primal Palate. Note the air quotes, because I have yet to meet this girl in person. The first time we spoke, we talked for two hours. Texts and Skype dates have kept us in touch ever since.
Meg is one of the most inspiration people I’ve ever known. Having struggled with anorexia twice in her lifetime—once when she was ten and again in high school—she is now a holistic nutritionist, blogger, podcaster, and young entrepreneur preaching self love and acceptance. It’s hard for me, someone who has only known her as this happy, bubbily person (who has an unprecedented love of plantains and deadlifts) to picture young Meg, a girl who didn’t even weigh ninety pounds in high school. I will never, ever forget when she told me, “If eating a chocolate bar scares you, you should eat it. If taking a day off from the gym scares you, you should take it. You should always, always do the things that scare you—it’s the only way to get through it.”
I’ve repeated Meg’s advice so many times, my friends think I was the one to coin the phrase.
Last summer, I received a voicemail from my friend Casey. She was heading to Colorado on a training trip in the mountains, and we wouldn’t get a chance to talk for weeks.
“Kara, you always say you should do one thing every day that scares you, and I just wanted to tell you about this trip. I’m going for two weeks on a trip where I don’t know anyone, I don’t know how in shape I am…”
She had a blast on that trip. And hot damn her abs looked good when she came home.
Let’s go back to Tuesday night. In case you’re wondering, it was not that bad.
I hate talking to massive groups of people—not just those wearing suits. Once while out at the bar, I asked my friend Derrick how to talk to strangers (I know, I’m five.). His response? “Honestly, it just starts with saying hi.”
So that is precisely what I did. I walked up to person after person, reciting, “Hi, I’m Kara,” and sticking my hand out like a f#*%ing adult. I tried my very, very best to remember everyone’s name. I ordered a Scottish beer at the recommendation of my new friend Phillip (see? I remembered). When I found someone halfway interesting to talk to, I didn’t use them as my crutch for the rest of the evening. After the conversation peaked, I politely excused myself and moved on to the next human being.
As you can probably tell, it took everything I had to talk myself through the evening.
The only downside to the night was I bought the worst shoes known to mankind. I was in the midst of a conversation with two guys from the World Bank when I knew I reached my max. I bounced, hard.
As soon as my Uber rounded the corner, I ripped those damn shoes off and walked barefoot down the sidewalk. I had done my duty for the evening. No one else was outside, so I could return to Comfortable Kara and not giving two flying Fs about what people thought.
“I’ve never been to this part of town before,” the driver told me. “Did you have an event? Did you have a nice time?”
It felt so nice to say in complete honesty, “Actually, I really did. Except for these freaking shoes. My feet are crying.”
“Oh honey. That is the WORST.”
I may speak my mind, swear like a sailor, and tell story after story around those who know me best, but I am actually a very shy person. I like my alone time. I don’t like big groups of people. I get intimidated by the dumbest sh*t. The next morning at work, Erica asked me, “So, now that you know it wasn’t that bad, do you think you’d be willing to do more events like this in the future?”
“Oh, absolutely. That’s why I did it.”