On Thursday I had a meeting with a person here in San Antonio (I write this at the airport about to head home after 10 days) and we had dinner at the River Walk. Thursday was a chilly day and this photo doesn't show what the weather turned into as about 30 minutes later it started to rain and get rather windy.
It was a relaxing pace on Thursday with not too many tourists about and the only ambient noise was the noise of the quacking ducks. All in all it was a beautiful, peaceful place. I was warned though as I was told that on a weekend night walking is difficult due to the amount of foot traffic. Last night I discovered just how crowded it could be.
After we finally got in round two of the USAC Generation Next tour we decided to go to dinner on the River Walk. After three miserable days of rain and mist the sun was firmly set in the sky and all the people that were couped up in their hotels were now out in force. Where as on Thursday there was just a stray walker the streets and sidewalks were now crammed. I had no issues on Thursday, but last night I was in a near panic with the amount of people out.
I had to look out of place as I was reserved, nervous, and my eyes were darting about. I don't know if I could put into words just how uncomfortable I was. It took all my power to not just vacate the area. Why was there a problem? I'd say it was the randomness of it all. At a sporting event all people are usually walking in one direction and there is order. Now, that isn't to say that last night was filled with disorder, but it was a chaotic scene as walking usually saw bumping due to the close confines and there was no order in the walking. Conversations could be heard in all directions as well as the music from various mariachi bands. Again, it wasn't that extreme of an environment, but due to all of it at once it was difficult for me.
Now how am I supposed to explain this at that point in the time? Just hours prior I was perched in the flagstand with confidence and conviction and now I was reduced to a nervous wreck. I was told that I should push myself outside my comfort zone, but I was there and could not do anything because all the alarms were going off in my mind and body. I so badly wanted to have my sunglasses because I really think that taking the eye contact element out of that environment might have made a huge difference, but they were locked away in my hotel room.
After an hour we got seated at a restaraunt and I was given, in my opinion, the best position tactically as I was in the center of the table with my back to the river. Honestly, if I steeped back about a foot or two I'd have gotten rather wet (there was a small railing there). Once I was in this position the alarms that were blaring and telling me to "run! get out of this place!" subsided and I slowly came back to normal. Dinner was good and here is that shout out I promised, thanks for dinner, you know who you are!
So that was the conclusion of my weekend. As I said earlier, it is so difficult to be in an environment where all is easy and then to go to one where I want to shutdown. For most people I'm sure that the roles would be reversed meaning that flagging a race with perfection expected and timing of calls have to be made instantly might intimidate others and a social environment like the River Walk would be easy. For me this isn't the case. At times like last night I get so frustrated at myself because I don't want to feel that way. I don't want to look as if I am in a battle with myself and visibly uncomfortable. It isn't a choice and I can't simply power through it. During those times I feel isolated and cutoff from everyone. Even though I am in a group I am alone. Even though there are, perhaps, thousands of people about I am alone on a deserted island and am unable to call out for help and say how I feel.
Perhaps I am stronger than I give myself credit for. As much as I would like to just power through and be "normal" perhaps the strength lies in the fact that I don't runaway. I don't hideaway at the hotel, despite the fact that I wanted to, and I do put myself out there. It isn't easy, and at the time I may feel alone, but I still go on. I don't quit, will not quit, and I may have hundreds of more experiences like this but I think, and hope, I will continue to not take the safe route in hiding and will continue to put myself out there on the edge.