I’m almost out of conditioner so I went to the store specifically to buy that very thing, but when I got in the hair product aisle there was a couple standing exactly where I needed to be, just sort of browsing the selections while talking amongst themselves, and I tried sidling in next to them but their physical proximity made me anxious, like it seemed weird that they were there first and having their conversation about hair stuff or whatever and I was, like, barging in, totally merging our respective personal space bubbles in an uncool way, and so I reviewed my options: 1) Keep going and come back later when they’re gone, but won’t that look odd, like I was clearly wanting to get something and then at the last second veered away all awkward-like, and what if that prompts them to make faces at each other as soon as my back is turned, like a shared The heck was THAT all about? expression, or 2) Just grab something quickly and decisively as though I had super important things to be doing and hadn’t in fact been looking forward to spending a non-trivial portion of my morning gazing at a shelf of snake-oil promises while basking in words like luscious and nutrient rich, UGH FINE LET’S GO WITH DOOR #2, and so I lunged blindly at a random bottle which wasn’t even a brand I liked AND it turned out to be shampoo, and while at that point the obvious thing to do was to return it to the shelf — perhaps with a slight shake of the head, a tiny half-smile so as to properly convey an airy Silly me, I almost bought the wrong thing! vibe — and get the product I actually wanted, what I did was throw it in my cart and walk briskly to the checkout line because at that point accepting a financial punishment for my ridiculous course of (in)action seemed entirely appropriate and seriously everything else just seemed WAY too hard.

Social anxiety reminds me of the thing Meryl Streep said about fretting about your weight: “There is no more mind-numbing, boring, idiotic, self-destructive diversion from the fun of living.” Well, yeah. And yet here I am with this unwanted bottle of macadamia nut shampoo.

But I guess that’s the thing, it’s all in how you look at it. Do I spend my life hating myself for being so self-conscious all the time and thus growing ever more self-conscious? Do I forcefully Stuart Smalley myself into some attempt to change the way I react and behave in certain situations? Or maybe, just maybe, is it okay to just … accept all my borked-up thinking with some measure of kindness, and be okay with the fact that sometimes I straight-up forget how to human? Because I can either have my dumb hair product flail and turn it into yet another reason I’m a waste of food, or I can laugh about it afterwards and be grateful for my authentic, sorta-disordered self — and also for free 2-day shipping.



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