My iMac broke a couple of months ago. It was a hardware problem and didn’t really affect the way the computer runs, so I put a bandaid on it and told myself that I would get it fixed when life slowed down.
A few weeks ago, my iPhone shattered (for the second time). There’s no bandaid for that so off to the shop it went.
Last week, my laptop threw a temper tantrum and shut down during a live video meeting with my mastermind members. (Hello beautiful friends. See you tonight.)
I seemed to have drifted into some kind of tech vortex, so I caved and made the appointment to take the first computer in.
The Apple Store is not my friend.
No matter what time of day, the place is packed with people. Way too many people.
When I walk in, I feel like the oxygen is slowly being sucked out of the room.
Everything is painted so white and bright.
The tables are low.
The walls are glass.
There is literally no place to hide. No place to blend in. No place to get away.
For someone dealing with social anxiety, the place is a beast.
I do my best to never go.
But sometimes life has other plans…
like breaking all the technology in your house.
What I’ve learned is that surface problems, especially those that happen over and over, are really knocks on the door. Attempts to get our attention. Sometimes they’re soft, sometimes a bit harder and then there are times when it feels like a maniac is beating down the door.
These tech problems fall somewhere in the middle for me.
So here I was, blaming Apple for charging extortionate prices for technology that breaks a lot.
It’s an easy argument to win.
But here’s the thing…
I can blame Apple all I want – comfortably snuggled up in victim mode, but that doesn’t stop the knocks on the door.
I’m at a place in my life where I’m waking up.
I am old enough to know that a long life isn’t a given and young enough to still believe that anything is possible.
So I am choosing to look for opportunities to grow.
When things keep happening over and over that cause us frustration, pain, sadness or anger, it’s time to step back and figure out why the pattern exists.
What is it that we need to heal, to let go of, to forgive, to stop doing?
Life gives us chances to grow and stretch, but these chances aren’t typically breathtaking or profound.
They are annoying and frustrating and over time they pile on forcing us to throw our hands up in the air and say “why does this keep happening to me?”
If we make the choice to move away from “this is happening to me” and instead move toward “this is happening for me,” life gets really clear. Really quick.
Here’s one of them:
“I would like to go to events and dinners and parties without feeling like I’m going to die.“
That is social anxiety tied up in a neat little bow.
I am an introvert. I prefer peace and quiet and solitude to all else, and my work makes it very easy to withdraw from the world.
Knowing this, I try to maintain balance with a carefully measured dose of human interaction.
Try is the key word.
I was being handed my medicine in the unapologetically hip house that Steve built.
Going into the Apple Store gives me the chance to lean in to the discomfort. I know that if I do this enough, the edges will soften.
It gives me the chance to look around, make eye contact with all of the other good humans and actually not burst into flames.
It gives me the chance to be still. Focus on one breath and then another.
It gives me the chance to label this story. This is anxiety. It’s temporary. It’s just a process happening in my body and it will pass.
It gives me the chance to learn that I’ve got this. I have the strength to remain calm and safe no matter what.
It gives me the chance to step out of my own ego and realize that out of all the people in that store, I’m not the one having the worst day.
In fact, in a store that crowded, I’m willing to bet there were several who were quietly dealing with life’s harshest lessons… walking through the big glass doors to escape the pain in the shiny, high tech heaven.