Let’s get this straight up front — I am no extrovert.
I have never been and I never pretended to be… well, that’s what I thought anyway.
In reality, I’m not a fan of the terms “introvert and extrovert” for the same reason I’m not a fan of categorizing ourselves by “Which Friends character are you?” (if you’re wondering, I’m the smelly cat)
We are all complex, interesting people and there is no way that we can be categorized just by a single term (or even a bunch of terms).
But, when I say “introvert,” most people know what I mean.
So it’s a handy shorthand.
I never pretended to be an extrovert. But I have given myself such a hard time for being “crap at social interaction” for my whole life.
I mean, I do know how to socialise.
I am aware that, if someone says “Hello” it’s polite to return the greeting and not just stare at them in an awkward silence… until they walk away, assuming you to be a statue.
I know that, as an adult, it’s expected I will get involved with conversations… by talking with my mouth, and not just nodding my head like a novelty car ornament.
I’ve even been known to hold conversations for… oh, at least 2 minutes, before my eyes start darting around the room in hopes of finding someone who might be able to add some real social skills into the exchange before my inherent lack of ability grinds it to a halt.
But I’m not a naturally sociable person and I probably never will be.
I give myself such a hard time for being “unsociable.” For years, I have pushed myself to go to social situations when I felt like it “because it’s good for me.”
Did this help me to become stronger in social situations? Yes.
Have I learned skills to operate effectively in such situations? Yes.
Would you know I’m an introvert by speaking to me? It depends on what day you catch me.
But one thing this approach hasn’t done is fostered a very happy relationship with myself. I’ve spent ages agonizing over the “mistakes” I made in social situations. I am, as many of us are, my own worst enemy.
Recently, I’m learning to say “Fuck it.”
If I really don’t have the energy to socialize today, I will make a deal with myself. Today, we have a break. Next time, we go out and talk to people.
There’s a thing in Zen (yeah, “thing” is a very Zen word, right?) where when you accept part of yourself it starts to melt away on its own.
When you battle that part of yourself, it just gets stronger and stronger.
Even though I always said I was an introvert, I have secretly given myself a hard time for it.
So, fuck it.
I give up.
I accept it.
Let’s see what happens.