“You’re an introvert… who has social anxiety… and yet you make it a point to say ‘hi’ to everyone.”
My best friend’s observation initially struck me by surprise. We had just finished eating a late lunch together and were heading out of the building when, of course, a group of people were waiting to enter. Me being me, I held the door for them… and did, in fact, say ‘hi’ to each and every member of the group. I think now is the time to point out this group only consisted of three people. Three. (Three people, ah ah ah… anyway). I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I even assured her, “Saying ‘hi’ is easy. It’s holding up a conversation that’s the hard part.”
But as we continued to walk to my car, I thought about it more. I am an introvert with social anxiety. Is my effort to be social excessive–uncharacteristic, even–for someone with these qualities?
Truthfully, people who are introverted and/or have social anxiety (these qualities aren’t correlated, FYI) vary in degrees of socialness. It depends on the purpose. And for many, it’s not for lack of trying.
Yes, I am introverted and yes, I have social anxiety. But I also, when the circumstances are right, can appear so outgoing it’s unnerving. And I haven’t always been the way. Only a few years ago, I was the consistently shy/quiet kid. I mean, I still am, but clearly to a lesser degree. I would never have dared to go places by myself, volunteer to lead a discussion, or *shudder* say ‘hi’ to strangers. But college–the experiences I’ve found in college–has, though exacerbated my introversion and social anxiety greatly, also aided me in embracing and combating these parts of who I am, depending on the situation.
As much as I may try to use my anxiety and introversion as shields to hide from people, extract myself from situations, or simply explain my sometimes odd behavior, I have to admit I’ve come a long way with both areas of my identity. And I definitely have to admit it when the childhood best friend points it out to me. Sometimes, that’s what needs to happen to notice your successes. Sometimes, God needs to guide you to recognize His gifts in you, your accomplishments through Him… by way of the people in your life hitting you over the head with blatant observations.
I guess that’s one way to do it.
I know my focus on here has been full of self-doubt and anxiety and generally all-around depressing topics lately (you know, for the past few months). But I appreciate those of you who have stuck with me–my blog–to hold witness to my journey of self-discovery in its many forms. So thank you… for putting up with the rain to catch a glimpse of the rainbow (er, trudging through my typically depressing writings to maybe, kind of enjoy my somewhat happier posts).
Have a thankful, loving week, Friends!