Starving Mouths, Greedy Beasts

The saying is older than me and anyone else who probably will stumble upon this post. It’s an old axiom designed to motivate people to speak up for what they believe in and at least verbalize what they would want or like in life.

A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

I think my problem with being quiet and afraid of people started in 4th grade. I was new to public school and carrying some weight I didn’t have in Catholic School thanks to a very sugar-filled summer. The jokes about my weight were really par for the course at that age as kids teased each other on a regular basis. However, coming from a place where that kind of thing wasn’t allowed, I never fully adjusted. I couldn’t react properly and I just withdrew. A few grades later, my voice became the newest insult, with people mocking my voice because I “talked white.”

Between my weight (which of course is a battle I struggle with today) and not “sounding” as cool as my peers, my social experiences were hindered and I just chose to stay to myself.

A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

That carried on through high school until I discovered the internet at 17 and then pretty much found companionship in chatting with strangers from other parts of the world outside of the misery I thought I was living in. It was cool for a few years, but then as I progressed through college and realized I didn’t know how to approach women or how I was too nervous to even answer questions in class, I knew I had a problem.

I had become socially awkward, shy, withdrawn, a total introvert terrified of being around other people in public settings.

A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

Instead of trying to get help for my problems and my fears, the loner lifestyle only intensified as I moved from Delaware to rural Maryland. There weren’t many black people there and Washington, D.C. and Baltimore were too far away for me to visit on a regular basis because of my job. My pattern was work and go back to my apartment and listen to music while I surfed the web. That was 3 1/2 years of my life without fail.

I never really figured out how to speak with confidence (there goes that word again) and self-assurance because the reminders of being laughed at for my voice and weight are still front and center in my conscience.

A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

I’m still trying to figure out how to kick this or at least change some of it. I’m relying on word of mouth for my business venture (which makes no sense) and I still am afraid to go out and network or just try to have fun because I’m still terrified that I’m going to have a Sherman Klump-meets-Reggie Warrington moment every time I go somewhere.  I still can’t look people in the eyes when I pass them on the street during walks, especially women because of the fear they’ll ignore me or ask me what business someone like me has looking at them.

Yet I know I’m missing out on so much. Missing out on growing my business to the potential deep down I feel it has. Missing out on meeting new people and having new and interesting experiences. Missing Life.

But as much as the closed mouth doesn’t get fed, the fear of a past that seems to be nipping the heels of your present of future feeds the beast of solitude, making it bigger, badder and tougher to overcome.

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