The other day at Disneyland, my roller-coaster-averse family decided to ride Indiana Jones together—the first time for my two daughters, 11 and 7. Standing in line, my husband started to strategize.
“You should ask for one of the back rows,” he said. The “Jeeps” for the ride have four rows—and sitting the first one is a lot more intense.
He stood behind me, our daughters sandwiched between us. I’d be the first to approach the Disney staff member, and thus the obvious choice to ask for a back row.
“Can we switch places?” I said, the idea of asking the crew member for a special request twisting my stomach.
He grinned at me, then nodded, well-aware of my social anxiety.
I hate talking to people out in the world; I used to refuse to order pizza over the phone. Even with people who are paid to get me what I need, I feel afraid to speak up.
So let’s just say that I’m as surprised by anyone that I’m able to talk about race in today’s fraught climate. In fact, though these conversations are tough, and make me nervous, I’ve realized I’ve gotten less socially anxious the more I’m willing to have them.
This is bizarre to me. I mean, tramping over taboos about political discussions goes against every rule in my born-in-the-Midwest playbook. Yet I’ve almost come to crave hard discussion about race these days. Because avoiding the topic feels worse than bringing it up.
I’m at my friend Cara’s site today, talking about the improbable ways that uncomfortable conversations about race are setting me free from anxiety. Join me!