I remember the first time I bought something by myself. It was terrifying.
I’m pretty sure that if the term “social anxiety” had been well known when I was a kid, anyone who looked at me would’ve diagnosed me with it.
I remember standing in that Bath & Body Works, maybe 8 or 9 years old, choosing the sweetest smelling lotion I could possibly find. My mom had given me $10 and I could use it however I wanted. Freedom! Except I had to actually buy it myself 😳
That meant I had to talk to another human. And that was the problem.
There’s a Polish saying, “Koniec języka za przewodnika” which literally translates to “The tip of your tongue as your guide”. In other words, if you need information, you just have to ask. My mom has repeated this to me countless times, as long as I can remember (and she still does). She always encouraged me to speak up, to ask, to find out what I needed to know.
Then, it sucked. Now, I’m grateful. Because life is a lot easier when you don’t only depend on yourself for answers. We cannot all expect to know everything – it’s completely unrealistic, as much as the Internet tricks us to believe otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, I love self-sufficiency! But you and I both know that sometimes asking will make our lives much easier. Plus, you might make a connection, or inspire a positive change.
Last week, I had decided to stop requesting sliced bread at my local bakery, since I noticed (via observation) that sliced bread always came in a plastic bag, while uncut bread always came in a paper bag. Wanting to reduce my plastic consumption, when the salesperson asked if I wanted my bread sliced, I said “no” and felt very proud of myself for this tiny step away from plastic 🥰
Then my partner (he loves making sandwiches) asked me to buy the bread sliced. I explained my reasoning and quickly realized that I had been missing a potential solution in my quest for less plastic. But the solution included asking something out of the ordinary.
I still get anxious before I talk to someone. It’s a little twinge of hesitation and fear, but I’ve had a lot of practice by now (thanks to my family for giving me no other option). I still always go through the question in my head a few times, making sure it’ll come out of my mouth the same way it was originally intended.
This week, the salesperson asked me if I wanted my bread sliced. I asked, “Is it possible to have it sliced but to be put in paper instead of plastic?” Her answer, “Of course!”
It was that easy.
So next time you’re struggling with a trail map, with locating the flour in a foreign grocery store, with how you can satisfy both your own desire for less plastic and your partner’s desire for sliced bread, look at the people around you as your first step to a solution.
It’s more than likely that they have a wealth of information that is completely different than your own. And I promise it’s not as scary as you may think it’ll be.