Reverted

“Do you want to go to the Titans game?”

I looked behind me to see if the young man was talking to someone else but, no, there was only me, the old lady walking her dog.

Three doors down from where I live is an ever-changing house full of young people. I don’t know if they’re college students or young professionals but on this particular morning, they were all piling into cars and trucks adorned with Tennessee Titans flags, headed to an early game and tailgate party. I speak to them often when I’m walking Prince and they’re always kind and respectful. But inviting me to a game? That was unexpected.

“No, thanks!” I said. They waved and took off, while I wondered why anyone would want to go to a game when they could watch it on TV from the comfort of their own homes.

I’m tired today—so I skipped church to enjoy some alone time. A Titans game was not on my agenda at all.

But then, it never is. I’m finding that the older I get, the more I’m reverting to the person I was years ago, the shy, quiet girl who avoided crowds and noise. Happiest when out of the spotlight, content with the sidelines. Happy to read a book in my room while the rest of the family gathered in the family room. Perfectly fulfilled with one-on-one conversations rather than group gatherings. In a support role, a dependable follower, and nothing more.

When I was a kid, piano recitals, where I was center stage, made me a complete wreck. My seventh grade choral director, Ms. Byerly, trained me as an accompanist and unknowingly gave me a great gift, allowing me to do what I loved, playing the piano, but in a support position, with the attention focused on the soloist or choir rather than me.

Presenting reports or even answering a teacher’s question in class devastated me, it was so very difficult for me to speak in a room full of people. I only wanted to hide under my desk.

We had a girls’ organization at church, GA’s, or Girls’ Auxiliary, that required the girls to learn things about mission work and then make presentations to the church annually. I dropped out of that at an early age so I could avoid those yearly moments on stage.

Please, I thought, just let me quietly learn and do my work. Please.

In my mid-twenties, though, I changed. My husband decided to divorce rather than work on our marriage and I was shattered. Completely shattered. The values and truths with which I had been raised weren’t working. Marriage was supposed to be forever but suddenly I was on my own. No helpmate on which to rely.

If I’m on my own, I’m going to have to change.

So I did, making a conscious decision to come out of my shell. I was working for the IRS at the time and when the big boss came to my office, I became the first to step up with a handshake. I started talking more, reaching for bigger challenges, trying to advance with my career. And I advanced, moving into management, becoming a leader. So far from who I used to be.

I’m in my sixties now, on the verge of retirement. Part of what led to my decision to leave the work force is that I’m worn out from making decisions, being assertive, sitting in meetings, and dealing with financial data.

I’m ready to relax. I don’t want to drive to Nashville to see the Country Music Hall of Fame or to hear an up-and-coming artist sing at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. I want to read books, go on long, quiet hikes, and spend time with my husband, my children or a few close friends. Nothing more.

I have reverted and I’m good with that. It feels like I’ve come back to the true me.

On the news tonight, the sports announcer said today was a day Titans fans would like to forget…making me doubly glad I stayed where I belong, right here at home.

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