Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Club Blues

I love my library. I love that it's 90 seconds from my house. I love that it's pretty and huge. I don't love the librarians, but the children's librarians don't seem to hate kids, so that's a nice start. friend is starting up a book club. I love books. I love getting together in small groups. I would probably love a book club. And yet, at the thought of joining a book group, (club sounds so 12-year-old-ish to me, like the Babysitters' Club), what do I do? I panic. Is joining a good idea? Can I handle a once-a-month commitment? Are the other members going to be a bunch of crazy conservatives? (I can't remember if this is the friend who compared Obama to Hitler on Facebook.) Is this club going to be an excuse to snoop around each others houses and impress each other with our snacks and feel bad about ourselves when we don't compare well? What if no one likes the book I pick?
Me, I mean. Why am I such a worrier? Tonight I went to the first session of a Spanish class at the local rec center. I haven't been to a real class in a while, so last week I was stressing. What if the teacher is scary, what if I can't remember any Spanish, what if I'm the only one there and it's awkward, etc. Then I took some time for a re-think. I love learning. I love the first day of class when the teacher talks about logistics. I love a clean notebook and a fresh pencil. I really want to learn Spanish.
This is called "shaping your narrative." The way we tell stories about what has happened, is happening, or is about to happen changes the effect of those happenings. For example, the other day my siblings and I were up at my parents' house talking about epic road trips, in particular the epic-ly bad family road trips we have been on. These included trips with puking, portable toilets, leaving the vehicle to try and hitchhike home, gross hotel rooms, being rained out of camping at 3 a.m. and spending the next day sitting in a laundromat, etc.
We could have told these stories with a conclusion that family road trips are a bad idea and we will never do them with our own children. But we shaped our narrative with a humorous twist, and as a result, fondly look forward to similar character-building experiences with our own kids. (I think.)
So back to the Spanish class, I shut down my worrying. I changed my story from "Lady who hasn't been to school in a while timidly attempts to learn" to "Lifelong student gets chance to pursue passion."As I admitted to my husband, I was walking down the hall to Spanish class and had these frantic last minute thoughts of "Why did I think signing up for this was a good idea? I don't like new things. I would be happy never trying a new thing in my life," but it turned out really well. The teacher was a nice woman, not a pretentious know-it-all RM, the class had six students, the perfect size for me, and I was one of the better speakers there so I didn't feel dumb!  
I read somewhere recently that as immortal souls, we fear becoming stagnant. Motto for the new year: I will try new things!


Sara said...

Great motto. Next time I'm stressing out, I'll try shaping my narrative.

I hope book club treats you well!

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