Wednesday, February 28, 2018


For many years, I've identified as an introvert.  Just to be clear, I've never thought of myself as shy.  Introversion and shyness aren't the same at all, but often times, people wrongly lump the two together.

I'm an introvert in that I "recharge" by spending time alone.  I prefer one-on-one interaction far more than larger groups.  Most of the things I like to do in my free time are solo endeavors.  That's just a few of the things about introversion I know play a part in defining me.

But, I can go to a party and seem as outgoing as the next person- maybe even more so.  But I feel drained from it afterwards, and always look forward to returning home.

Since being in a brand new city, we've been staying in a lot.  Which I LOVE.  It's my preference.  BUT, I know if I don't eventually force myself to interact socially, I may never feel up to it again.  And I most definitely gain from being around other people, and I find great value in friendships.

So, last week I got online to find a Meetup group-(or two, or ten!) that looked interesting.  Mainly I was looking at book clubs, or hiking groups, or something creativity related.  I've been getting emails about different events, and I finally found one I decided I was going to make myself go to.  It was a "creative women's group" of some sort. I wanted to go, but I also knew I'd probably find an excuse to back out of it and stay home once the night arrived.  So I told Fermin, unless I came down with the flu, to push me out the door and make me go.

I wasn't actually nervous while driving there.  But I wasn't excited either.  I was just sort of curious.  And glad I had actually taken the first step in getting there. I figured I'd just check it out and if I didn't like it, I never had to go back and certainly never had to cross paths with the people there again.

I purposefully showed up about 10 minutes late, because it seemed like the right and safest thing to do to avoid the initial awkward chit chat.  Once I walked through the door I felt so shy.  And awkward.  I was in someone's house and I didn't know a single person there. Everyone else seemed to at least know someone, if not everyone in the room.  I have no idea, maybe they were just faking it far better than me.

I said hello to the host, hung my coat up but then realized everyone there was engaged in conversations.  I was the odd man out unless I just busted into a group that was already talking.  And nope.  I wasn't wanting to engage, other than for the fact that I looked awkward just standing there. 
Just as I was eyeing a dunce chair off in the corner to sit down on, the host said, "Ok ladies- Are we ready to move into the other room and get started?"

All the ladies there seemed nice, and welcoming.  They seemed open-hearted, and I was so admiring anything they shared, but I just could not bring myself to contribute at all.  I wanted to leave the whole time.  It had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me- and how stupid I was feeling.

Even tho I was the very first one to get out the door to leave, I did stay until the close of the meeting, two hours after it began.  As soon as I was walking out to my car, I looked at my phone, and saw that Lucy had left me a Marco Polo video message.  (Fermin obviously helped her, and morphed his voice to "helium", to sound something like how we think she would sound if she could talk.)  I wish I could play the audio here so I would always have it, but I don't think there's a way to do that.  Lucy (Fermin) said something like this:
"Mom, I'm so proud of you for going to the Meet Up group and getting outside of your box.  I know it's scary, because I feel nervous whenever I have to do new things too.  But just be yourself and have fun.  The more you do it, the easier it will get. I love you and I'll see you when you get home."

It was the sweetest, sweetest thing.  And it reminded me of how therapists sometimes have kids talk with puppets about awkward or difficult things. Fermin hadn't said any of those words to me, but through sweet Lucy, he did.

I had some negative self-talk going on after I left the Meet Up.  Why couldn't I have been more friendly?  Why didn't I have enough confidence to contribute something, anything, the way all the other ladies did?  Why couldn't I have been like the girl who taught us a little Zumba dance?  Or the woman that sang us a new song she had just written?  Or the girl that told us a sweet story about letting her 8 year old daughter do her make-up and hair and pick out her outfit for the evening? Or the lady who shared a silly joke she had recently heard?  Or the woman that tried to beat box for the first time ever in public?

Now I understand that phrase "painfully shy."  It actually felt painful. OUCH. Make it stop. I wanted to be more like those girls and less like me. But I guess (almost) everyone feels shy sometimes. And that night just happened to be my night.

BUT.  I did it.  I showed up.  I walked into a home of someone I had never met, full of other people I had never met.  And I had no idea what this group was going to be like.  Like Lucy said, it will get easier.  I'm just out of practice.

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