People who know me laugh when I say that I’m shy.
Apparently I fake being outgoing incredibly well.
After some thought, and acceptance of How I Am, vs Who I Should Be (according to who? Society? The media? The image in my head of how a grown-up lady is supposed to act and feel?) I have come to the following conclusion:
I am an introvert.
When I’m feeling good, emotionally, physically, whatever, I can push through the anxiety and navigate new people. I can be in a crowd, I can make the small talk. I may even find it pleasant to be in a social situation.
But it’s never, ever, easy. People scare me. New people, casual acquaintances, old friends… they all pretty much scare me. Or annoy me. Or bore me. .
So this past weekend, as I headed up into the mountains for a big group camping trip, with people I was fairly familiar with, I was nervous. Even apprehensive. I had verbalized to Mister, my self-defined functioning parameters. 1) Practice my small talk. 2) Withdraw if I needed to, and not feel guilty or “less-than” if I needed some quiet alone time. It was important for me to say these things out loud, not just for myself, but for him as well. He is an extrovert who loves talking to people. We have had issues in the past, wherein he has interpreted my quiet presence at the fringes of a group conversation, as being unengaged, uninterested, anti-social, even sulky. And for a long time, I tried to be what I thought he wanted me to be, and I felt like a failure most of the time.
But now I’m free. A free, happy, self-proclaimed introvert. Granted, I may be an extrovert-leaning introvert, but as with anything, things are rarely black and white, but rather a sliding scale of gray. I had a good weekend. I went in without expectation. And I had a good time! I talked, and visited, and rolled with whatever came my way, and when I needed to recharge, I withdrew, for an hour here or there, to my quiet loft room with the polka-dot sheets and the stripey quilt. (Yes, it was cabin camping, complete with my coffee maker and real bathrooms. So, maybe not exactly camping per se, but it was in the mountains. I had to drive on a long and winding dirt road to get there, and there was no cell service. That’s camping according to Ginger.)
I like me. I like who I am. I see room for improvement, but that will come.