Thursday, September 12, 2013

vaincre ma timidité

"Vaincre sa timidité" is an expression in the French language to which I have taken somewhat of a fascination.  In English, it translates to "overcoming one's shyness".  And thinking about it, I have almost never seen nor heard "vaincre" and "timidité" otherwise or even separately.  Maybe I don't pay much attention to other ways in which these words are used or maybe I am singling out this expression from the several that I come across every day, because I may be timid.  Really, is it any surprise that I am writing on this particular subject?

Last July, at a drawing workshop that I attended in Angoulême, I met a fellow participant named Mélanie.  We got to talking during a group lunch on the first day, and I found her to be rather sincere and simple.  And pretty too.  An attraction started to brew.

One evening, after a day's worth of drawing exercises, Mélanie and I got a ride downtown from Dominique, who was also taking the workshop.  While searching for souvenirs to buy, Mélanie suggested that we have a hot dinner together in her stove-equipped hotel room since we were both staying alone in the city.  "It could be nice", she added.  Indeed, I thought.  So we stopped at a supermarket to get some food before making the walk towards her hotel.  Since being invited to dinner at home by a rather unfamiliar girl was unusual for me, I started to get anxious.  The situation was only troubled more by my increasing attraction.

At dinner, Mélanie and I got to know each other better.  More correctly, it was I who got to know her better.  It was all that I would allow myself to do, fearful of the uncertainty that would follow if I made it clear that I was smitten by her.  Eventually, after leaving for my hotel, I could not help but lament failure after failure to express my feelings.  Nevertheless, I remained optimistic.

The next day came.  The last evening before the workshop was a couple of hours away and I hoped very much that I would end up again at Mélanie's place.  I did.

Pleasant dinner, good conversation, and constant anxiety, all over again.  I stayed on the lookout for a good moment to break the ice.  It seemed like there were several, but I hesitated to make good use of them.  It was an ordeal holding both fantasy and reality in my mind; the obvious conflict between the two was quite difficult to tolerate.  Sometime after dinner, having run out of words, I figured that I might as well return to my hotel.  So I got up to head for the door.  But not before daring something at the last minute.

Since Mélanie and I were on the topic of fear at the time, I admitted that I had a fear.  She asked what it was and I found it interesting to overcome the fear at that instant.  The events that followed happened quickly and remain a blur.  They included me approaching Mélanie, who was standing at a certain distance, and then retreating halfway as if some invisible force field had prevented me from advancing.  What I felt at the time resembled shame.  And all that while, Melanie just stood there, watching silently.

Feeling suddenly exposed, I revealed that I had tried to kiss her.  Yet it was clear that I did not even give myself a decent chance, having botched my attempt.  Mélanie, however, remained silent.

Since I had already announced my departure, I found my way to the door, relieved from my anxiety but disappointed with my effort.  Once we got into the corridor, Mélanie broke her silence.  "Wow, you are timid!", she exclaimed, as if she could not believe it.  "Well, isn't it obvious?", I asked in reply.  She thought about it for a second.  "A little," she said, amused, letting out a slight smile.

So I guess that I am timid, at least with a woman.  After all, I did acknowledge that much.  "You are the person you chose to be", says Paul Arden.  Really, all I want to be is a free spirit, not only in what I do but also as far as who I am.  I think that overcoming one's shyness is important to that end, but it is merely a means.

Being a free spirit goes beyond that means.  And it appears to me that the subject does not have a place in popular discourse.  Maybe because the term "free spirit" is not easily defined.  Or maybe because such a state of being seems too difficult to achieve, if not impossible.  Is it even important in the first place?  Who knows.  Well, no worries.  Let's just resolve the matter by settling for something we can all recognize or relate to.  Shyness, and overcoming it.

So if you see me, hear me, or read about me doing anything silly, wrong, or maybe just downright cool, know that I am only trying to vaincre ma timidité.