I’m a master at the “selfie.” For years, I’ve been taking pictures of myself with my friends. I like my selfies. I tend to look best in my selfies because I know exactly when I’m going to push the button to take the picture. I like my pictures so much that I’ve used selfies I’ve taken on this blog again and again and again.
At Hood to Coast, someone on my team caught me in the act. Here’s the picture I was taking:
And here’s the picture of me taking the picture:
I like this photo – not just because I think I look lean in it – but because its existence affirms for me that, in those few days in Portland, I was not alone. I was surrounded by incredible teammates who made my first return to Portland since October of last year warm and memorable.
It also makes me realize that I acted, to some extent, as though I was alone, when in reality, I wasn’t.
There I was on the beach with eleven teammates, many of whom were just a few feet away, and it didn’t occur to me to ask one of them to take our picture. I just did what I always do and took it myself. I do that. I like the independence and the control of a selfie, but I also tend to function in a self contained manner because I’m used to being alone and I don’t like being a bother. It wouldn’t bother me one bit to take a picture for someone else but to ask someone to take a picture for me? That feels like an imposition. Why take up their time? Why take them away from what they are doing and risk interrupting a moment or a thought?
I worry about that sort of thing a lot. Even in relationships, I’m cautious about imposing myself on others. I love having people I love in my space, in my home. I’m super relaxed and never worry about things being used or moved or broken or stained. I just love having someone with me. But in their homes, I worry that I’m in the way or crowding them or putting something where it doesn’t belong or where it might annoy them.
Last summer, I took Bread and Butter to Portland for some months with me. Now I love my children, but they make lots of noise at night when they are hungry, and they need litter boxes, which always stink, even if I clean them daily. I know we were welcomed there and wanted, but it was stressful to try to be in that space without being disruptive and smelly – or perhaps more accurately, without feeling disruptive and smelly. It was just hard.
I’m at my best, at my most relaxed, in my own space. In my own home, I can’t be in the way. Independent, I can’t be a bother. I can’t be a nuisance. I can’t get in anyone’s way.
I’m realizing that the way I am sometimes isn’t good for me or the people I’m around. I wouldn’t want any of my friends to think that they shouldn’t tap me on the shoulder and ask me to take a picture. And I know that my friends similarly wouldn’t feel bothered, but would be saddened to know that I felt uneasy asking for their help. And I know no one who invites me into his or her home wants me to feel uncomfortable. So why not just go and relax?
It would be good for me to relinquish some of the independence, the control, and the fear of putting people out – to recognize and acknowledge that there are people around me who can and want to help and who want me in their space and maybe even who want to create a space that is shared. I’m just not used to thinking that way or having that level of comfort with others, even people I love.
And I do love every person who was with me in Portland. Very much.