When I was a little girl, I used to say hello to everyone I met. My mom said she was afraid I'd happily run off with a stranger. She also told me she used to have me order my food at McDonalds. I'd be so shy, but I would do it anyway. At this age I was a little older than I was when I used to cheerfully say hello to the world.
As years went by, growing up as a young woman was tough. I was picked on because I wore my hair funny, didn't wear trendy clothes, I talked funny, I listened to weird music, I cried too easily... the list goes on. Not to mention all the deep, deep, family issues. It wasn't until my Junior year of high school that I had an outlet for all that pain with chorus and theatre, and I had some really amazing friends as well.
However, high school didn't really "fix" anything. I never quite grew out of that shyness, and if anything, it got worse. I noticed I couldn't handle being in social situations for too long- especially if there was a big crowd of people- I preferred texting to talking on the phone. Social situations were extremely draining, and hard to process. But as soon as I began drinking I felt like all my problems were solved. It gave me "liquid courage". Alcohol allowed me to loosen up and forget about my issues. While I was able to be in social situations, drinking still didn't bring the healing I needed.
The past couple of years I've been doing some major heart work. I began releasing some of the things from my past, forgiving people, letting go of habits that do not serve me. Through this process and through reading, I've learned more about who I am, and I’m learning to accept who I am.
This "socially awkward" journey has been pretty tough. People who do not understand you feel like you're not being an adult. You don't like them. You're dull, boring, afraid, mentally ill. Some of those things are lies you tell yourself. It's hard to remember in a world created for outgoing, high energy people, that you are not dull, you are brilliant, you are smart, you are loving, you're not mentally ill, and you are very much an adult.
It takes so much courage to own who you are -- especially in a world that doesn't understand you. It takes great courage and great LOVE to identify YOUR needs as a highly sensitive, empathic, introverted person, and make sure those needs are met.
I've learned to excuse myself to a quiet corner (if I can) when I'm in social situations that are too much for me. I try my best to explain to my friends to please not invite me to gatherings at the last minute-- I really need time to prepare and ask my heart if it's ready for the interaction. I'm so so so appreciative of the people I have in my life who let me sit, listen, and observe, and understand that I'm just not a person who talks a lot. I talk when I have something to say. Idle chatter really isn't my thing. I'm working on the phone thing (slowly with Love) and I'm working on responding to messages quicker (also slowly with Love) because sometimes even this digital world can be intimidating.
I don't talk a lot, but I'm always thinking of people. My heart work is to help others. I'm learning to break out of my little bubble with ease. It's an interesting transition, because I do not want to become something I'm not. I don't want to mask (or not pay attention to) who I am. But I would like to interact more with people in person and online. I want to become less afraid of sharing my ideas and beliefs. I want to be able to start having magical conversations, and eventually provide a space for healing.
I think this journey is all about listening. Listening to my heart. Knowing when to step out into unknown waters, and always putting self-care first. This is a journey of listening and owning my beautifully unique flaws. We all have them right? Our flaws are not what's wrong with us. They are what make us the brightness we are. Accepting that is hard but oh so worth it.
It's still hard for me to return phone calls, but if a friend needs me I'll usually set my issues aside. And a little while ago I actually started up a conversation with someone new. And I am slowly being more vocal about what I believe in-- even if my beliefs are out of the norm, or a little controversial.
But I also still have days to myself. I still need my mornings of silence, I still need my quiet space to breathe and BE. Some days are worse than others. Some days I need my husband to order dinner for me. Some days I walk into a store, and walk right out because there are just too many people. The apple store? No fucking thank you. My husband seems to have to go in that hellhole every time we're at the mall. But instead of rushing him out of the store, I quietly sit outside of the store in the comfy little couches, or I go browse in a space that's not so crazy.
But this is me. Whatever it is that I am is who I am. As long as I remember to honor who I am, I think I'll be okay in this crazy world.