Here’s the story of adventure, individuality, and a turnstile.
I don’t really see what wading through a river will achieve when there’s a perfectly good footpath off to the side. And, ooh! There’s a lovely tearoom up there. Wouldn’t it be grand to go out for a country stroll and have a lovely cup of tea and a scone sat by the river, surrounded by the most beautiful, wild and kempt countryside? Admittedly, this isn’t the sort of thing you hear many 10-year-olds say that often – or ever, actually. You see, my primary school thought it would be swell to take out the class for an adventure weekend out in the North Yorkshire countryside. I spent my three days moaning. Constantly moaning. I know, not like me at all. I mean, there were a great many things I was asked to do that weekend that I didn’t want to do, but wading through a river was taking the biscuit. I just couldn’t understand what was so great about wading through a large and fast moving body of water, especially when you consider I can’t even swim. I got back to the mansion cold, wet and miserable. People might say I need to be more adventuresome. I take greater pleasure from remaining warm and dry. Oh yeah, we stayed in a mansion. Not that I’m bragging about it, its gold leaf ceilings or its 16 butlers…
You see, mother and father thought little shy me would do well by a weekend spent out of my comfort zone. Many people say you can’t get anywhere in life if you don’t venture outside of this zone. To the shy ones reading – these people are lunatics. Your comfort zone is named such because – and this may come as a shock to you – it’s comfortable. So what if I never rule the world and never go swimming with sharks? That’s your idea of fun, not mine. The problem is, the shy idea of fun is so far removed from the day-to-day activities of your norms that we simply can’t cope in their world. They think we don’t like being shy. That we need ‘curing.’ “Go on an adventure weekend – you’ll come back a different man.” Yeah, I did. I was happy before. I spent that weekend crying. It’s my tip of the week. See a shy person, leave them alone. We like being alone. No need to drag us into a river. That sounded less sinister in my head. Hmm.
Anywho, I wasn’t happy about all this. The river wading was only the start of the horror. There was an adventure course through the forest. The teacher was dragging me at one point toward the high up stuff. Literally dragging me. You know that thing kids do where they don’t want to go somewhere and they make their bodies dead weights? Yeah, that was me. “LEAVE ME ALONE! I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE!” “IT’S FUN! GO AND HAVE SOME FUN, YOU IDIOT!” Didn’t like that school very much, if I’m being honest…
I’m not saying I wouldn’t have had fun, but that’s not the point. Some people might enjoy being strapped to a rocket and fired at the Sun, others really don’t. Whilst my peers were off ‘having fun,’ I spent my time wandering around the forest looking for wildlife. I did this recently, too. We have a theme park in the UK that’s half amusement park – what with all your modern rollercoaster gubbins and twirling malarkeys – but the other half is a very open zoo. I had a whale of a time with the monkeys whilst my peers were off on the rides next door. I had a lovely packed lunch that I shared with a peacock. I had a nice conversation with a zebra, too. They’re in a huge open field with a really low boundary fence. She came over to me, put her head over the fence and I stroked her. I was the only one at the zebra enclosure. Nobody else wanted to come and see her. She was heavily pregnant at the time. I was trying to encourage her to name the baby ‘Alan,’ but it was probably fruitless. Oh, and I had a great time watching a blind baby fruit bat walk into a tree on several occasions. I did feel sorry for it when it started ‘crying,’ though. But the keeper came in and gave it some fruit, so all was well in the end. What? I’m not the villain, here. The tree is. Boo trees.
We did other things in that forest, too. That blindfold trust exercise. I did that. Surprisingly. I don’t trust anyone, normally. I should’ve been wary. My partner was useless. Hurts walking into a tree. Bloody trees…
Then came the abseiling. ABSEILING! Are you mad! What’s the bloody point in that! I told the teacher I was afraid of heights. She didn’t believe me until I started having a panic attack. I even moaned about the cocoa and marshmallows we had one night by the fire. “Here’s your cocoa, Alan.” “But I don’t like cocoa. And don’t get me started on marshmallows, am I right – oh, you have marshmallows? You know, I’m tired, I’ll go to bed. Clearly I’m not wanted here.”
I was right. They all hated me. I don’t mean to be difficult. Most of the time. Sometimes it’s quite fun. I just remember looking at the dry ski slope, convinced I wasn’t going to go down it, thinking, ‘Well, it’s bad now, but once you finish school, it’ll all be over.’ Nope. I was wrong. Once the shy bug has bitten you, you’re infected for life. There’s nothing you can do about it. And you’ll keep running into this clash of cultures. The shy culture and the mainstream culture. Sometimes you wing it, sometimes you don’t fight it but you can never say ‘no.’ Otherwise people treat you with utter contempt and you’ll be chastised.
I’ve been at this work experience I’m doing for three or so months and I’m enjoying it. Occasionally, I have to wing it. “Do you know when you go to a takeaway, and this happens, and then you have this and do this?” “Sure,” I say. I don’t go to takeaways! Yet when you tell anyone that, no matter whom they are, they just stare at you, all puzzled. But… but everyone goes to takeaways every five minutes! Nope. I’ve never been to one. I eat real food. Proper food. Well, most of the time. When mum and dad are here. When they’re away, it’s all triple bacon cheeseburgers. But they’re made from proper meat, not the leftovers you get in takeaways. I don’t treat my body right, but I don’t treat it right in the right way.
The boss wanted to take me and the others to a restaurant for a meal after work. Perfectly normal for everyone on Earth who isn’t shy, but shy people don’t go to restaurants. We stay inside, all by ourselves, as much as possible. We put earphones in when in public so no one will talk to us. We keep our heads down at work. But a restaurant isn’t that bad, I suppose. I’d rather not go out with people, but you have to do things at work you don’t want to do, I suppose. But that’s my limit.
What happened this week? ‘Oh, we’re all going to go out for a day soon.’ Oh, Jesus, it’s the river wading all over again. I DON’T WANT TO GO OUT! Here’s an idea, why doesn’t the entire office go out for a day and you leave me in charge? “But we want to get to know you and be a part of the team. We don’t want you to be left out.” BUT I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE! God’s sake. Want me to be a part of the team? How’s paintballing gonna achieve that? I am not going paintballing! Never have, never will. “You’ve never been paintballing before, everybody’s been paintballing at some point in their lives.” I’M NOT EVERYBODY!
You want to get to know me? Wonderful. I get up at the same time every day. Have the same breakfast. Make the same trip to work, usually falling asleep on the bus. Do the same work every day. Go home. Spend hours and hours researching for my blogs and writing them. Have some dinner. Watch the television. Go to bed. Every single weekday of my entire life has been along those lines. What about the weekend, though? Well, every Saturday is the same. Get up, tidy up, more blog research, watch the television, have some dinner, watch more television, go to bed. And as for Sunday? Guess what! More blog research! Church. More football. Dinner. Football. Again. Television. Sleep. That’s been my weekend for over a decade! That’s me. Not interesting at all. So please, don’t shoot me with paint! That is not normal! Not to mention the fact I have a dodgy knee and ticker, plus very low blood pressure. I’d have a heart attack paintballing…
What else did they suggest? Bowling. Bowling! I went bowling once. Worst day of my life. Never going again. Here’s a fun fact – most people don’t go bowling in the UK. It’s not our forte. Complaining is our forte. Waiting patiently, things like that. Go karting! Who the hell goes go karting? Is that normal? I’ve never known anyone to go bloody go karting. That’s not normal, either! “So what do you do for fun?” “Well, not much. Most of my time is spent working on my blogs. When I’m not doing that, I’m watching the television or out photographing.” “They’re not fun.” Oh, for – they are for me. We push each other too much in society. Let people breathe, for heaven’s sake.
I really did think this would stop after school. Turns out, I was wrong. So what should we shy ones do? I tell you what my message is to the shy reading. Stand up. Say no. Bowling, whatever the hell go karting is, paintballing, adventure weekends, trips to arcades – say no. If they don’t like it, stuff ‘em. I know you feel bad letting others down and ruining their fun, but you shouldn’t, because they make you feel just as bad. You are a unique individual with a unique, individual character. It might not be a fun one, but you should most certainly embrace it.
They also suggested going to the football, by the way. I didn’t like that idea, either. Last time I went, I got my foot stuck in a turnstile and badly twisted my ankle.
Stop laughing, it really hurt…
American President, George Washington (1732-1799), once said: “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”
Peace Out :|:
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