The phone rings. Should I pick it up? It’s my friend Kylie. She probably wants to ask me to hang out. So, I give it a few rings and I decide to answer. And what do you know? She wants to know what I’m doing and if I want to go shopping.
Most teens would jump at the idea, but the introvert in me was screaming.
Before March 2020, I wouldn’t go on walks. I would spend my time in my “powerhouse,” my bedroom, where I daydream about how I should live my life. But this crazy pandemic has me in my powerhouse 24/7. As much as I love my thoughts, being surrounded by them is suffocating. Now it seems my only option is to connect, even if it’s spending a ridiculous amount of time on the phone, talking about whatever. Trust me, I love spending time with my family, but seeing them every day is a lot. Add to that my free-for-all homework situation, and you have a recipe for disaster. My parents are constantly hovering, making sure I’m doing my work. Then having time-consuming projects in almost all of my classes. I even had to learn new vocabulary and sentence structure for Spanish. I had to do it all of that without the brilliant learning zone we call school.
Every year I play volleyball in the fall and run track in the spring. This gives me, the introvert, time outside of school to be with my friends. Until the coronavirus, when the only way to connect is through my phone. I actually answer calls from my friends now. I even go on walks with my mom.
A couple of weeks ago, my mom asked me to volunteer at church for a drive to help people affected by the protests and riots. A man named George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis cop, and the world blew up. It was amazing seeing so many people recognize the oppression and abuse my fellow African Americans and I face. I can really say I am grateful to all those who were open-minded in accepting a group of people’s experiences as a common reality, which shapes the way we see and behave in the world. Helping out at my church, I remember the hot, sweaty mask and how it fogged up my glasses as I helped people to their cars. Being around people I didn’t know and having to help made my heart race. Would I make a mistake, drop the box or stutter? While everyone is scared of getting sick, I’m worried about doing something awkward. I guess that’s the introvert in me, self-critical as always.
One lady who always comes to our church drives has three energetic kids. She speaks with an accent and wears a hijab. When I helped her to her car and put the box in her trunk, she said thank you and her kids smiled. Under my face mask, I smiled and felt happy to give back.
When I think about getting out of my powerhouse (my comfort zone), I wonder what it’ll be like to grow up. It makes me scared and worried. But when I force myself to connect with others and help out, it makes me want to be a better friend and a better role model to my younger sister.
Given the world today, maybe it’s time I leave my comfort zone and show up. Yes, the world is full of uncertainties, but one thing I am certain of is that I will have to grow up. Helping people will always be something I enjoy. If I can help someone with their problems and struggles, then maybe I can assist their purpose being revealed to them, as my purpose is revealed to me.