I am a part of several groups and pages on Facebook, like most people. I like those groups most of the time because you can interact with people without actually having to deal with people. It’s fantastic, get in, get out and never actually have to meet anyone. One guy in a group posted for tips on how to deal with changing from working in the kitchen of a restaurant to being a bartender, as he is fairly anti-social. A lot of people in the group are kind of D-bags, so he got a lot of bad advice. But I get it, I really do. There is more money to be made out front, so throw out your back of the house persona, strap on a smile and make some cash!
I have a bit of this myself. People never believe me when I tell them that as a kid, I was incredibly shy. I look back, and it was pretty bad. I think there are lot of reasons for it, a lot of scenarios that just made me feel better not getting noticed too much. Plus in a big family, it is easy to blend into the background. I had 3 older brothers, they made a lot of noise. I didn’t have to. When I transitioned to a new school when we moved, I was 13, and I made a conscious decision to make myself be more outgoing. That was really hard. I had to force myself, but I knew if I wanted to make new friends, I was going to have to put myself out there. It was exhausting! But I did it, and I made some great friendships, I got involved in some groups, and I can look back at my high school days with some pretty great memories. It was a persona I created for myself.
Now, I work with the public. And when I am at work, I am on. I chat with people, I tell stories, they laugh and I make friends with lots of them. But deep down inside? I want to go home and sit with Zelda. I go out and do stuff sometimes, but not like I used to. I want to be away from people most of the time. It is so hard to explain. I have read articles about it, the Extroverted Introvert. That’s me!! But not always. There are times I want to be out, and there are events I wouldn’t miss. Does anyone else feel that way? It’s tough, I tell you that!
When I am work, it is like acting. You have your work personality. Everyone has that, I don’t care what kind of job you have. I can turn it on, no problem. Sure there are days when you just aren’t feeling it, but you go through the motions of it, and get it done. It isn’t that I hate people, it’s just I don’t like a lot of them very much. But there are days when I still feel like that little shy girl, the one that doesn’t really want to get noticed. Not anti-social, but not wanting to interact either. You are in a room full of people but feel incredibly alone at the same time. That is probably the best way to describe it.
Now the holidays are on the way. That will mean parties, social gatherings, places where the Charm will have to get turned on. And it isn’t that hard with people I know and like. Chatting up a room with familiar faces isn’t so bad. But making the small talk with new people is often where the pain comes. I know that is hard for many people, but when you are perceived as a “fun person” as I often am, it can be really hard. I get through it all, but it takes a lot of effort. I am learning that this is all pretty common, really. Talking to other people I have learned more and more people have this social anxiety. I feel better about that, we can all be and feel awkward together.
What I guess I am suggesting is that even if you feel like you want to be “out there” but still can’t get out of your sweatpants to go out in public, you are not alone. You have a part of you that can do it, be social. It may take an extra effort, but there are people that are interested in you. But also, if you cannot quite put it together enough to go out, it is OK to stay home too. Make a deal with yourself, that you can go out, but that if it isn’t happening for you that you can get out. That is what I often have to do, and I end up having so much fun I am one of the last to leave. I often think people that are part of a couple have it a little easier, as they can use the “Buddy System” of being social. As a single person, I have a tough time getting there, finding a person or group to hang with, and feeling like an outsider. But I have made myself do it, and more often than not ended up having a good time. I hope for that for others that hate being alone, but can’t quite get together enough to be around other people.
At the end of the day, be yourself. You have your own way of navigating your social agenda. It is hard for more people than you think. There are those that cannot handle being alone, and they surround themselves with anyone, just to not be alone. I think they have it harder than those of us who are comfortable in our own company. But don’t isolate yourself either, reach out when you need someone or something. It is a hard thing to do, but we are a social bunch of anti-social beings, as long as people aren’t to people-y.