I am a shy person who doesn't do well in large, social gatherings. Small groups are fabulous. One on one situations are even better. More than that, I get nervous and all goes downhill. In fact, the more people there are, the higher my anxiety level is. We won't discuss the details of how I tend to behave in such situations...but it's not pretty. As a result, I avoid parties like the plague, refused a head table at my own wedding so as not to be so prominently on display and get so stressed out at the idea of a reunion that I want to go to bed for a week.
In my own defense, I come by it naturally and can point to any number of family members who feel the same way (though not my own parents). I don't tend to look at it as a character flaw....it's just part of who I am, and most people who know and love me understand that.
You can thus imagine how I felt when my parents were placed in charge of Dad's family reunion this year....and decided to turn it into a day-long, full-blown extravaganza.
The good news is that I am gifted with a fairly hefty dose of self-confidence when it comes to performing for the public. All of my jobs have required either some form of public speaking or demonstration, and I've found that once I slip on the persona of 'resident expert' I become considerably more comfortable in those large social situations. It's even better when I'm doing some sort of working demonstration because then I'm not only 'on' for the performance, but I'm also distracted by and focused on whatever it is that I'm demonstrating. (And yes, I know that all of this creates a somewhat disingenuous portrayal of myself as I am basically acting instead of just being me. If you don't like it, too bad, it's a good survival tactic.)
I'm not at all sure if my parents were actually considering any of this when they asked me to do a sheep to shawl demo for the reunion, but God Bless them anyway. I started doing spinning demonstrations when I was 14, and can easily escape into the comfort of that old friend. I've gathered wheel, spindles, fiber, handspun yarn and finished projects to show off. It's my armor, and it's all good. I just might survive the family reunion with my sanity intact!
PS. My dear family - I do love you all.....I just would rather see you in smaller groups!