Part of being in your 30s is finally knowing a bit of who you are. You can get rid of that setting for four because you never feed four people: it’s either just your family or it’s a minimum of six people. You can pass on the lovely porcelain figurine you inherited because it turns out you’re not a knick-knack person. You can wear big jewelry and not feel self-conscious because you’re a person who wears big jewelry, and you really don’t have to think that hard about it.
One of the real joys of my late 20s and 30s for me has been being ok, downright comfortable even, with who I am. I can present at a big important meeting, speak in public, plan a party, sing the Halleluia Chorus, fix plumbing and make a peach pie. I know how to comport myself at an opera, and feel at home in fancy French restaurants (especially ones IN France… YUM!). After a quick look around, I handled a Turkish bath (with all states of undress) just fine. In all sorts of walks of life: from church to work to culture to leisure, I don’t ponder whether or not I belong. I just engage in what we’re there to do.
There is one huge, glaring exception to this.
Manicure/pedicure places freak me out.
This spring I went to get a mani/pedi at a local place. Like every single place I’ve ever been to, it was staffed by a variety of Asian women (I believe they’re generally Vietnamese?!) and attended by a variety of white women, all of whom seem to know everyone and be in media res with the latest gossip. There are at least two tvs on, with some incredibly annoying movie playing. The lady at the counter never makes eye color with you when she tells you to pick out your color.
The steps of getting a mani/pedi are like this intricate dance. You do the pedicure first. God help you if you didn’t plan ahead and are wearing socks and/or jeans. The person is usually chatting to their fellow technicians, while the other people getting pedicures are talking about all the people they know. There are all these steps to it, and so many of the customers there are there regularly — weekly even — that you feel like the only idiot who has to be told what to do. And there are all these unspoken things… do they take credit cards or only cash? You have to pay before they’re done, or you’ll smudge your fingers. How much do you tip? And you just KNOW that this gaggle of women will not hesitate to discuss any faux pas you may have made after you depart.
By the time I got out last time, I was nearly a nervous wreck. I felt ill with the strain of it — totally self inflicted of course. Granted, my fingernails looked great, but it just wasn’t worth it. I did my own nails the other night. The outcome wasn’t nearly as good, but the tv on had baseball and it hardly cost me a thing other than time.
So that’s me. Where are you unexpectedly uncomfortable? Where do you feel like an outsider, and despite your competence in many arenas, avoid?