Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt awkward and
uncomfortable and … well … dumb in
lots of social situations. Meeting new people, a big party, making small talk
in general – I suck at it.
I get overstimulated easily, and spending even a little time
around lots of people (including crowds) is exhausting.
I am an introvert.
I never knew it until a few years ago, at least I didn’t
know I was one, and I’ve never been so thankful for a label. It explains why I
am wiped out by a little bit of a lot of people, but feel alive and well when I
am in deep conversation with a few friends. It explains WHY I’m content with a
handful of close friends. Why I spend so much time up inside my head. Why not
leaving the house for three days is not only ok, it’s enjoyable. Why I hate
meet and greet time at church.
I can “play” extrovert just fine in some situations, so I
wouldn’t say I’m shy. I WOULD say, if I’m honest, that the extrovert me is in
control of my surroundings. Like if I’m talking to customers, or teaching
something, or standing in front of crowds, I’m fine. Because I’m in charge,
Ouch. I didn’t realize that was true until I typed it just
now. We’ll see if I leave it in.
Anyway. This inherited characteristic has, predictably, made
my daughter and one of my granddaughters just as awkward as I am.
So I was with the girl this weekend we each did some writing.
Hers is better than mine and so I’m sharing her words with you:
“Being the shy introvert that I am, I often find myself
regretting the “road not taken.” I don’t take very many chances, preferring to
stay in the safety of my comfort zone most of the time. But sometimes, staying
in my comfort zone causes me to miss out on the fun other people seem to be
having. I often regret not joining a conversation, or not enjoying myself at an
event simply because I don’t know anyone. Because of my shy nature, it amazes
me how some people can just strike up a quality conversation with a complete
stranger, or always be comfortable no matter where they are. I like to think of
those people as have a very large, mansion-like comfort zone, while mine is
limited to only a few small rooms.
While other people’s comfort zones may be bigger, it doesn’t
mean they are happier than I am.
They can just be happy in most places, while I am
comfortable in only a select few. In a way, doesn’t that make the places I can
be comfortable in more special by default? Think about it this way: if you were
competing for something, would you be more excited about getting the high ranks
from the judge who gave everyone high ranks, or the one who only gave them to
one or two contestants? The pickier one, right? It’d seem like more of an
achievement that way. That’s how I imagine my comfort zone. If I can be myself
in a certain place, that place has to be familiar and special to me.
Even so, sometimes I despise how small my comfort zone is.
While others are talking and building lasting friendships, I’m most likely in
the corner reading, or not even there at all. I’d like to be able to be
comfortable wherever I go, but I’m not.
So I’m working on it. I try to speak up
in class or take the time to talk to someone new. It’s nerve-racking, talking
to people I don’t know. But I do it, because sometimes I have to step outside
the small place I call my comfort zone. Maybe I’ll eventually be able to be
comfortable everywhere, but I’m not there yet. I’m just going to live my life where
I’m comfortable, and try not to care too much what people think.”
You don’t need any more of my words to get inside the skin
of an introvert. And if you are part of this tribe, and if you’re still in your
jammies at noon I probably am too so don’t fret.