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, basically.
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.