1984 – Sixth Grade Do-Over

Intimidated by boisterous Billy, stone-faced I watched him catch popcorn in his mouth.

To his crestfallen question, “Don’t you like me?”

I’d answer, “Of course.”

Erasing the “no” shyness uttered twenty-nine years ago.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

This is my response to Trifecta’s weekend prompt, which was to “give us a 33-word time travel story.  We don’t usually tell you what to title your piece, but we’d love it if you could title it with the year/date that you choose.”

My first thought was to fast forward eighteen years to see if my younger son has mastered using a napkin.  Instead, I decided to tackle my past.  Shyness had a strangle-hold on me until I finally faced it when I turned fifteen.  It’s not completely gone, but I’m mostly functioning now (except in unfamiliar social situations…shyness still makes me look like an idiot :))

Edit:  I want to clarify that this piece isn’t really about Billy, or regrets about how that turned out.  It’s about shyness and all the things I haven’t let myself do because of it.  This do-over symbolizes one change in the right direction:  living life outside the shadow of shyness.

Have a beautiful weekend.  Oh, and if you have any thoughts on this piece, don’t be shy – leave your comment!

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87 thoughts on “1984 – Sixth Grade Do-Over

  1. Lance September 20, 2013 / 7:58 AM

    29 years can solve a lot. This is very poignant and I’m glad on how you drew from yourself.

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 8:27 AM

      Thanks, Lance. I have a feeling there will be several personal ones this round 🙂

  2. Debbie September 20, 2013 / 8:17 AM

    I can soo identify with shyness, Janna. You’ve nailed the Trifecta challenge, putting in just 33 words the awkwardness of being a tween. That’s something we’ll have to continue working on, huh? (I wonder when we’ll be “finished”??)

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 8:29 AM

      It is a continuous process, Debbie. I didn’t really start gaining on shyness until after college. Even now, my impulse is to avoid social situations…I have to make myself get out there, and invariably, I say something dumb that I replay over and over later just to torture myself! Finished? Don’t know if that happens 🙂

  3. nrhatch September 20, 2013 / 8:30 AM

    Sometimes the admonition to “just say no” prevents us from saying “of course!” to life . . . and the boisterous Billy’s in our path. 😉

    Life with “do overs” would be so different.

    And LOL at your first thought for time travel ~ to check on the napkin usage of your offspring. 😆

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 8:40 AM

      Thanks for reading, Nancy. I tried to get the future travel to work, but with my mind kept going the depressing road. I wanted humor!

      This was just one of my many ‘on-the-sidelines’ moments compliments of shyness. Life has worked out how it should, so I wouldn’t say I have regrets, but I did feel awful when I realized I’d hurt his feelings. Billy was okay though – he became super-popular and forgot I even existed 😛

  4. Kir Piccini September 20, 2013 / 8:33 AM

    Oh I liked this, although I have never been shy. In fact I think I am more “shy” right now in my life than I have ever been. Maybe not shy, as much as cautious.

    this read as authentic as I imagine it felt. 🙂
    have a great weekend my friend.

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 8:43 AM

      I always wanted to be one of the outgoing people that I watched from a distance. Not in the cards for me though, Kir 🙂 I’m glad you could ‘feel’ this even though you didn’t experience it. (These personal ones are so hard to put out here…all the second-thoughts wondering if I should’ve “fictioned it up” a little!)

      • Kir Piccini September 20, 2013 / 8:48 AM

        nope, put it out there. I too am trying very hard to say ONE true thing in mine. My 33 words want to go the way of fiction too, but I think that I should say something about myself.

        you know that your writing lets us inside, you don’t have to be shy here, with us. I always love the welcome I get when I visit here. 🙂

        • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 9:14 AM

          I can’t wait to see what you come up with, Kir! Your responses are usually a tug (or punch) to the heart – I mean that in a good way 🙂

          Honesty is best, but I feel so much more comfortable (read: less vulnerable) hiding behind fiction. I’m always glad when you stop by. I know you’re busy with the kids and school, and work, so I appreciate it when you take a few moments to read my posts!

        • Kir Piccini September 20, 2013 / 9:17 AM

          does it help to know that I READ EVERY SINGLE thing you write? I do, I sit and allow myself to get lost in your stories, but then work calls or I want to write and write a comment and I don’t have time. But I am here, I promise and so lucky that I get to read your words. Truly.

        • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 9:27 AM

          Okay, you’re going to make me cry, Kir! You are so sweet.

          I’m behind on all of my reading since school started. Between Boy/Cub Scouts, older son’s cross country and younger son’s soccer, there’s something going on almost every night. You’ve got like six chapters posted (at least) of a story I want to read. I hope you leave them up, so I can read them all at once 🙂

        • Kir Piccini September 20, 2013 / 9:32 AM

          I will..Kimmy and David are going to stay up, I promise. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them. 🙂

          that’s what’s great about friends (even internet ones) we are here..you don’t always see us, but I’m here. Swear.

        • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:35 PM

          🙂 I’m hoping to carve some time out this weekend!

  5. Jennifer Dillon September 20, 2013 / 9:37 AM

    Awwww. I love the ‘Of course’ it was such an adult edit.

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:35 PM

      Thanks, Jennifer. Yes or uh-huh didn’t give me enough words 🙂

  6. zennjennc September 20, 2013 / 11:16 AM

    A completely different take on 1984, but still good.

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:39 PM

      Orwell crossed my mind when the year came up 1984…yep, this is different 🙂 Thanks for reading, Zennjennc!

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:39 PM

      🙂 Thanks for reading, Momsomniac!

  7. Sarah Ann September 20, 2013 / 12:36 PM

    And if you’d said ‘of course’ then …. would we be here now? Great piece – the shyness at its heart is clear.

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:40 PM

      True enough…that one little event could’ve meant bigger changes. Good thing I’m happy with how my life turned out, in spite of childhood difficulties 🙂 Thanks for reading, Sarah Ann!

  8. Ivy (Mommy Dourest) September 20, 2013 / 2:30 PM

    I’ve never had the shyness problem. (It probably wouldn’t hurt for me to be more introverted. Lol!) But, I see it in my son to some degree and some of my kids’ friends. It makes me sad because they miss out on so much. Hurray for you that you’ve ventured out of your shell! 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:43 PM

      Well, I still feel more comfortable in my shell, but at least I can talk to someone without breaking into a sweat and forgetting my name and then wanting to cry afterwards 🙂 As long as your son is able to make friends, I’d bet he opens up with age. Thanks for reading, Ivy!

  9. Bryan Ens September 20, 2013 / 2:58 PM

    The flip-side of the coin is that some of us who were never shy enough wish that we HAD been more shy at times, as my foot has been in my mouth far too often because of what I have un-shyly blurted out. Good to see this from the other side. Great post!

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:47 PM

      Funny, Bryan! Unfortunately, I ended up with my foot in my mouth a lot too, because I’d get so flustered if I had to talk to someone, everything came out messed up. There were several times I’d meant to compliment someone, but it came out as an insult, and the more I’d try to make it better, it just got worse. (When my brother was around for these episodes, he would motions like he was shoveling and tossing dirt over his shoulders.)

  10. chlost September 20, 2013 / 2:58 PM

    Shy or just reserved? Observant? I think that we call ourselves shy (I do, too) and give it a negative connotation. It is not necessarily a bad thing. But I do love this scene you’ve edited. I have many in my life I would edit, too!

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:51 PM

      Oh it was shy…definitely shy. I joke that I found more money during my childhood because I that’s where my eyes were focused. I didn’t make eye contact and I didn’t want anyone to notice me. It took several years of active work in changing to get to the point I could walk up and ask a stranger a question.

      Now, I think I’m more reserved than shy. I can talk to people…but I often prefer not to 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Chlost!

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:51 PM

      Thanks, Vishal! I appreciate you stopping by 🙂

  11. trifectawriting September 20, 2013 / 10:08 PM

    I love the image of Billy tossing that popcorn into his mouth. Great re-write of history, Janna. Thanks for linking up.

    • jannatwrites September 20, 2013 / 11:55 PM

      I remember watching out of the corner of my eye, but pretending I wasn’t. I had a huge crush on him and was afraid if I looked at him he’d be able to tell. Instead, he caught me off-guard with his question and I was jerk.

      This was a tough (but fun) prompt!

  12. Widdershins September 20, 2013 / 10:15 PM

    Oh to go back and tell our younger selves all the things we now know!

    Buy shares in Google!

  13. DonettaS September 20, 2013 / 11:38 PM

    I think a lot of people can relate. I was shy until middle school and actually at 36, still can be if around people I don’t know. At first, but I’ve luckily gotten a grip. Shyness can be rough and cause us to wish we’d said something different. Also, a lot of people thought/think I look unapproachable or I’m snobby because I’m not talking. 😦 Wonderful post. Very endearing. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 12:01 AM

      I got the snobby/unapproachable comments, too, Donetta! That got worse in high school, after I got rid of the glasses and braces. I didn’t look as much like a geek, but I still very much felt like one, so I didn’t approach people and join conversations. (After I did finally get to know people, they confided their initial impressions…it kind of hurt my feelings!)

      Thank goodness age seems to mellow us out, right? 🙂

  14. KymmInBarcelona September 21, 2013 / 2:10 AM

    Love your “correction”, Janna!
    I am shy. Age has allowed me to finally ignore it, for the most part, but we are definitely and definitively marked by shyness. It’s fun to think (and I agree) that if we hadn’t been so shy, we might have been nicer!

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 10:21 PM

      The reduction in shyness is one good benefit of age, Kymm! I’m glad you have been able to move past it.

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 10:22 PM

      Thanks for reading, Patty. The first couple ideas didn’t pan out (way over 33 words) so I was just happy to come up something that worked 🙂

  15. Draug419 September 21, 2013 / 8:05 AM

    If I had a time machine to fix shy points in my life, I’d run out of gas before the end haha

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 10:24 PM

      You’re funny, Draug! I think I’d have the same problem if I tried to fix everything 🙂

  16. @annbennett12 September 21, 2013 / 11:21 AM

    Shyness, good job describing its stranglehold.

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 10:25 PM

      Thanks, Ann. I’m glad you could ‘feel’ it 🙂

  17. joetwo September 21, 2013 / 11:27 AM

    Ah! To rewrite the things you should have. Very nice story.

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 10:28 PM

      Thanks, Joe…appreciate you reading it!

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 10:31 PM

      True, Tina. And writing has fewer ramifications than actual time travel!

  18. Steph September 21, 2013 / 12:11 PM

    We have much in common. I’m still awkward in social situations, always second guessing myself. Like you I’ve come a long way, but oh to erase that doubt altogether! Nice description of that feeling!

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 10:41 PM

      On the surface, it sounds nice to go back and ‘fix’ things, but it’s hard to say how that would impact the rest of our lives. I’m so glad your shyness has improved with age, Steph. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  19. Imelda September 21, 2013 / 3:52 PM

    How nice it will be to turn back time and correct the ‘idiotic’ things we did out of shyness. 25 years ago, I stuffed in my bag the flowers that a classmate gave me because I got too conscious and didn’t know what to do. Needless to say, that was the end of the friendship and we never got to speaking terms again.

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 11:41 PM

      I think it’s interesting how long we remember the goof ups, but how easy it is to forget about the interactions that went well. I’m sorry that your friendship was lost over the smashed flowers, Imelda! Thanks for reading, and sharing your story.

  20. lovethebadguy September 21, 2013 / 8:16 PM

    As someone who is painfully shy herself, I absolutely adore this piece. Nice work!

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 11:42 PM

      Thanks so much, LTBG! I’m glad this piece has reached so many other shy people 🙂

  21. Sini Rachel September 21, 2013 / 8:21 PM

    I can so connect. I still am awkward with people. I remember I would run away from guys who I really liked unable to handle more than a Hi. I hid behind my gang of girls pretending to be all rough and rowdy.

    • jannatwrites September 21, 2013 / 11:44 PM

      Ah, running. I can relate….I often sneaked peeks at a distance, avoiding all contact (if I didn’t talk to them, I couldn’t get flustered and say something dumb.) I hope that with age, your comfort level with people increases. Thanks so much for reading, Sini Rachel!

  22. mairzeebp September 22, 2013 / 5:02 AM

    Crestfallen is one of my favorite words. Sixth grade and almost every grade, I was shy and intimidated and a do over would have been a lovely option.

    • jannatwrites September 22, 2013 / 7:53 PM

      The bright side of all the wished-for do-overs is that they provided life-long learning experiences that we don’t forget. Thanks for reading Mairzeebp!

  23. Michael September 22, 2013 / 6:25 AM

    As the saying goes, I know those feels. I used to be super introverted earlier, and even now in social situations I’ll just find someone I know and cling to them for the whole event. I think I’ve gotten a little past it now, mainly because of undergrad. I was in an orientation leader group, and had to do the Banana Dance in front of five hundred people. You get over shyness fairly quick after that. 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 22, 2013 / 7:57 PM

      Oh my goodness, If I had to do anything in front of 500 people, I’d pass out! I suppose that’s one way to get over shyness, Michael 🙂

      Several years ago, I had to a presentation (four times) at a workshop. I think it was an out-of-body experience, because I swear, I don’t remember much of it (except that my hands were shaking so bad, I fumbled my note cards and had to wing it a bit!)

  24. atrm61 September 22, 2013 / 9:08 AM

    “Stone-faced”-that cracked me up though am sure it must have been a terrific battle within for you Janna-my daughter is a bit like that but is slowly gaining confidence now that she is in college:-)You don’t sound shy at all-glad that you have overcome that bit:-)Am very”garrulous” and have never had any probs making friends or talking to new people-like one of my friends(who sadly is no more )used to joke-“You!Even a wrong number will keep you on the phone for half an hour” 😛

    • jannatwrites September 22, 2013 / 7:59 PM

      You crack me up, Atreyee! You might be able to get a story out of that wrong number joke.

      My grandma was a lot like you…she’d strike up a conversation with anyone. She couldn’t even make a quick trip to the grocery store without chatting someone up. Me? I might smile and say ‘hi’, but that’s about it 🙂

      • atrm61 September 24, 2013 / 12:06 PM

        Ahh-so now you can call me “gramma”:D Your comment brought another funny memory- some 18 years bk I was in another city and me and my cousin had gone to the local market-and of course I was all for stopping by and chatting up -when we were returning my cousin ,who is more like you,commented,”Didi(elder sister) how you love to talk- u know all the shopkeepers and even their families too!”And I remember bursting into laughter!

        • jannatwrites September 24, 2013 / 9:55 PM

          That’s a funny story, Atreyee! My grandma made friends everywhere, too…but I won’t call you Gramma 🙂

        • atrm61 September 25, 2013 / 11:05 AM

          😛 Ah my hopes are dashed-thought was getting myself a highly talented grand-daughter-all ready made but alas,am not gramma material! 😦 lol!Am off to Trifecta to chk what you have doled pout this week-Darlene,here I come!

    • jannatwrites September 22, 2013 / 8:30 PM

      It works, Bjorn! I always liked that song 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 22, 2013 / 8:32 PM

      I don’t know, Alicia… awkward moments and all, it ended up okay, though 🙂

  25. Valerie September 22, 2013 / 2:07 PM

    I’ve always been shy (though now I know I’m an introvert.) Oh to be able to do over some of my less stellar moments too. Loved this, Jana!

    • jannatwrites September 22, 2013 / 8:35 PM

      I’m an introvert, too. The difference is that now, I can usually join a conversation, if I want to. Thanks for reading, Valerie!

  26. deanabo September 22, 2013 / 2:20 PM

    There are sooo many things I would love to go back to change. Great story from the heart.

    • jannatwrites September 22, 2013 / 8:39 PM

      I think it’s good when we can look back and see things we’d change – it means we’ve lived and learned. Thanks for reading, Deana!

  27. pattisj September 22, 2013 / 2:25 PM

    Sixth grade was rough, and it didn’t get any easier after that. I also dealt with shyness, but can now function–somewhat timidly–in public.

    • jannatwrites September 22, 2013 / 8:43 PM

      I’m glad you are able to function now, Patti! School was tough…thank goodness we don’t have to do it again for real 🙂

  28. Tara R. September 22, 2013 / 6:08 PM

    There is at least one high school do-over I’d time travel to have. Great use of the prompt.

    • jannatwrites September 22, 2013 / 8:44 PM

      Thanks, Tara. I hope that do-over doesn’t come to mind often.

  29. grace black September 23, 2013 / 6:30 AM

    Oh, I love this one! Well done. I believe many can relate to the theme you wove for us here.

  30. margitsage September 23, 2013 / 12:15 PM

    I can totally relate. Cute piece.

  31. Sandra September 23, 2013 / 1:00 PM

    I totally get this! Hindsight always is so much clearer than when one’s in the moment. Now that we have more experience under out belt, we should react with more confidence than back then, no? 🙂 I like your take on the prompt!

    • jannatwrites September 23, 2013 / 9:21 PM

      Glad you like it, Sandra! Hindsight is good and bad…it shows us how we could do things better, but in doing so, it makes us very aware of how it went wrong 🙂

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