And when it comes to thinking about a wedding, a bridal shower and other festivities, I've had one question in mind:
"Is this going to be awkward?"
I've scrolled instagram with the best of them and seen tons of photos with brides at showers, opening gifts, surrounded by people and thought...
Wow, that's a lot of attention.
I even contributed to a Vogue.com article on the topic of introvert brides.
But what the heck do I know?! I've never had the spotlight on me in this way.
I had absolutely NO idea how I was going to handle things when it was my turn to be #bridal.
But, there's definitely one thing I did know:
I didn't want my wedding festivities to be a recreation of all my "lost birthday parties."
The "lost birthday parties" were the parties my friends threw for me, where I'd become SO concerned with the mingling of different friend groups - why is this so stressful?! - and whether or not everyone was having a good time.
The party would be over before I knew it. I wasted precious moments worrying about stuff that didn't matter (does everyone like the chicken?!) and not being in the present moment.
But last Saturday - it was showtime for this introvert bride.
My two close friends were hosting a bridal shower for me.
I decided to use all the tools I'd picked up along the way.
If there are a couple things I've learned in my history of being a sensitive person and empath it's that you HAVE to take your TIME when you're getting ready.
So, I gave myself LOTS of time to get ready.
I played relaxing music. I drank a lot of water...And I let myself feel the excitement of seeing all my friends in one place.
I even used The Glam Squad app. POOF - Two hair and makeup ninjas got me ready in my home so I could just sit and chill.
Instead of being self-conscious about having attention on me I kept telling myself, "Soak it up."
I felt excited when I thought about catching up with friends.
And when I thought about people traveling long distances, I felt incredibly touched and humbled.
By the time I left my apartment, I felt calm and ready.
It was like Opposite Day for all the times I would show up at my own parties distracted and self-conscious.
When I arrived at the restaurant and walked into the room my friends had beautifully decorated, I smiled ear to ear.
As I talked to everyone, I was fully present and engaged in every moment of the conversation. Time stood still as I hugged and laughed with people I hadn't seen in forever.
I felt super proud of myself.
Alas, there was a moment when my newfound calm was tested.
If you've attended a bridal shower, you know there comes a time where everyone puts down their forks and watches the bride OPENING HER GIFTS.
This has always been my version of a personal nightmare:
All eyes on me as I open cooking supplies I don't know how to use.
And then it happened. Gift opening.
As I had the first beautifully wrapped present sitting in my lap, I thought to myself, "Ummm...people are staring at me. This is awkward."
But I took a breath and focused on what I was experiencing - the opening of the paper, the buzzing energy in the room, and the receiving of the heartfelt gifts from amazing friends.
I tore open the packages and relished in every detail of the gifts.
I felt like a kid at Christmas. I mean, I can't remember the last time I opened more than five gifts in a row. It was awesome.
And when I looked around the room I wasn't thinking about whether everyone was having a good time (I hope they were!) or if they liked the food (I'm pretty sure they did).
All I thought about was soaking up the joy and gratitude of the moment.
I stayed present and let LOVE be the center of attention - the love I have for my friends and family and the love they have for me.
And you know what? I had a blast. Me - the reluctant center of attention bride ;)
At the end of the party, my friend Nicole, who has known me for thirteen years, said, "Do you need to go home and decompress?"
Normally, after hanging out with a ton of people I'd be ready for some alone time. Like I said, she knows me well.
But instead, I checked in with my body and said, "Absolutely not. I'm ready to do whatever. Let's go hang out."
Can you imagine if I'd spent that time with my friends and family in my head worrying about stuff I can't control?
What a waste.
And frankly, I've done that dance. Next please.
You can't give if you can't receive. Love is an energy that needs to be circulating - pouring out and pouring in.
I hope you're able to take a little time for yourself today...and give a little something back to someone in return.
Fill your cup and then give back to the people you love...even if you're simply giving your undistracted and beautiful presence :)
How do you soak up love and attention in a mindful way? What keeps you balanced? Leave a comment below and let me know your tricks...I can always use more :)
From my heart to yours,
Devon McLeod, LCSW