I was recently chatting with someone and flippantly said, “I’ve always just been a wallflower.” She looked at me and said that I needed to change my mindset. Whoa. That stopped me. Yep, I sure do!
Let’s back up. What is a wallflower?
Wikipedia says: “A wallflower is someone with an introverted personality type (or in more extreme cases, social anxiety) who will attend parties and social gatherings, but will usually distance themselves from the crowd and actively avoid being in the limelight.
The name itself derives from eponymous plant’s unusual growth pattern; against a wall as a stake or in cracks and gaps in stone walls. “Wallflowers” might literally stand against a wall and simply observe others at a social gathering, rather than mingle. This could be due to anxiety, shyness, lack of social skills or self-esteem.”
Growing up waaaay back in the 70s and 80s, I was called shy. Labels like introvert and anxious weren’t part of anyone’s regular vocabulary, and empaths were unheard of.
I would do pretty much anything to avoid being in the limelight, or attracting any sort of attention to myself. When I was young and small, I managed to wedge myself into small spaces to escape with Anne of Green Gables or Nancy Drew, girls who explored the world and had big lives. I sat at the back of classrooms, quietly observing everything around me, blending in. In high school, we were graded on participation, and I remember a teacher mentioning that he disagreed with that because those who sat back listening learned just as much. In university I avoided courses where you had to stand in front of the class for presentations. I could go on about the social situations I avoided to escape feeling anxious.
I discovered alcohol a coping strategy. In my teens and into my 30s, instead of avoiding social situations entirely, I found that I could numb the anxiety with booze.
I now see I was a wallflower as a way of avoiding anxiety, but more than that it was a way of not picking up other’s energy. As an empath, I got completely overwhelmed by what was going on around me, and had no way of understanding or explaining why I felt overwhelmed. Chicken and egg scenario – intertwined anxiety and empathic nature. And yes, I’m also an introvert who needs downtime to recharge. I fully accept this now, but back then (before awareness) I judged myself, and was judged by others, because I couldn’t seem to keep up socially with everyone else. I felt like I was missing out. I got sick a lot when I tried to keep up.
Now let’s fast forward. In the last several years of developing my own awareness through energy healing and coaching I’m able to look back and see WHY I was a wallflower. It’s been a gradual process, stepping away from the wall. Sharing myself on this blog is still outside of my comfort zone, but it gets easier every time. I started posting guided breathing break videos (on Facebook and YouTube) as a way of getting comfortable online. I teach reiki and yoga, and present at workshops, which puts me in front of people. I’ve been a guest on my friend Shana’s podcast. With each step, the anxiety has fallen away. And I know how not to take on other people’s energy, and to how to release it when it does happen to stick.
My recent conversation made me realize that I still carry the “wallflower” energy as a self-concept, and I don’t want to. Wow, WTF. So this blog post is me processing, and I declare that I am done – I’m ready to release my old, wallflowery self and step into my own, authentic light!