I had a couple of very interesting days this past week.  The first occurred when I wore my new favorite shirt and everyone began commenting on how much weight I’ve lost.  Those are always good days and make me feel great.

The second occurred on Thursday when I went on a school visit with a few other members of the staff where I work.  Our reason for going happened to be one of those all day informational things where you sit in meetings all day until you’re ready to scream.  Familiar?  I’m sure you are.  There were two things I noticed during the day:  The first?  I’m socially acceptable now.  The second?  I’m still not ok eating in front of people.

I’ve been to meetings like these before where I’ve been without anyone I knew.  Those days I always tried hard to network but found people to be generally unreceptive.  I’d usually wind up in the corner being talked at by the most annoying person in the room.  I’ve also been to meetings such as those where I wasn’t the only person I knew.  More often than not, the person I knew would ditch me for someone they knew from another school.  This would happen almost immediately.  Now granted I’m not close friends with any of the people I usually go to these things with.  In fact, I don’t see most of these people in a normal week and possibly even a normal month at work so they really have no obligation to babysit me… well maybe other than politeness.

Neither of these things occurred on Thursday.  Not only did others desire to network with me, but some even came back to talk to me again at the next break.  Could it be I’m more confident?  Am I giving off a different vibe?  I really don’t think so.  I’m just as nervous and shy as I usually am, I crack the same stupid jokes to strangers I usually do, and I still cross my arms and forget to smile like I always did.  Were these people friendlier?  Who knows?  The other thing which blew my mind is the people I knew didn’t ditch me.  One even saw me walking towards the door at the end of the day and stopped to wait and talk to me a bit.  Completely out of character as he and I don’t even talk at work if we run into each other.  So strange.  As I thought about the day on the drive home I started to wonder… is it just that I’m more socially acceptable to be seen with now?  Is this the big difference?  Or, is there some difference in my personality I can’t see/notice?  Do I have less of a chip on my shoulder?  Am I scowling less?  (Likely not, I’m just not an automatic smiler.)

And then there is lunch.  The trend is to offer bagged lunches which include a sandwich, chips and a cookie… pretty standard fare these days.  I am always surprised when I skip over the ham now.  I used to try to go for the ham or roast beef and be upset if they were gone and now I just prefer not to eat them, they’re kind of gross.  I always look for the chicken breast because 9 times out of 10, that stuff is real chicken breast, not cold cuts like the other crap.  And…. BINGO there was chicken pesto.  A brilliant sandwich really on some small loaf of crusty bread with tomato and some green stuff which wasn’t lettuce (BONUS since I only like romaine and everyone on the planet seems to use iceberg).  There were two halves, both probably about five inches long but only about 2.5 inches wide so not excessive.  Everyone else’s was two, four inch regular sized sandwiches.  That’s the first thing I noticed, mine were LONGER.  I started to panic a bit wondering if I should even finish ONE of mine (yes, at this point my calorie counting guesstimates went right out the window and I went into OMG people can see me eating mode…mind you, this only occurs around people I sort of know… not people I know well or people who are strangers but people whom I know and am not friends with).  I decide to have the chips since it was a small bag and I needed to stop freaking out about the sandwich.  Then I noticed no one else was eating their chips and i crumpled my bag up and threw it in the bottom of my bag (they later ate their chips but no, I’m not sorry since they weren’t baked and were far too greasy anyway).  So I eat one of my sandwiches and a couple of bites out of the other feeling confident as everyone else has eaten ALL of theirs.  Then there is the oatmeal raisin cookie I have.  I decided not to eat it but then everyone else started eating theirs and I realized I wouldn’t have anything to do but watch them eat and they would realize I didn’t eat my cookie and think it was because I’m trying to lose weight.  (Right, yes, I am trying to lose weight so why I’m so petrified of these people knowing it or maybe seeing my decision not to eat sweets is beyond me.)  So, I ate my cookie.  I regretted it as I didn’t really want it and it packed on an unknown amount of calories to my lunch which I really didn’t need and gave me an afternoon energy low.

So the second thing about the day I had to think about is:  Why am I so panicked about eating in front of people I know but am not friends with?  Why does this put me in this deer in the headlights panic?  What is it?  Obviously I feel as though they are watching my every move and judging me but where does this stem from?  Why do I care so much?  One would have thought with my new “socially acceptable” status I’d have felt more confident but nope, one trip to lunch land sent me back to a babbling idiot.  I just don’t get it.