I realized some time in high school that I had to start challenging myself, or I would recede inward, a social recluse. I was more than shy, I was avoiding hanging out with friends. I loathed new classes when I didn’t know anyone in yet. Guys made me so nervous I’d turn red or avoid their eyes at all costs (ack, I still do this), and the volume of my voice when talking to someone will go down so much, they must wonder if I am speaking at all! I could never get the words out, while inside, I was screaming for release.
I didn’t want it to control me any longer. I am a passionate person, and must express myself. My own little prison of isolation was cozy but self-defeating.
I didn’t want it to keep me away from other people.
So I prayed on it a bit, and I bit my lip and forced myself into social situations. I would prep myself beforehand, by listening to my favorite music or writing a poem- something I could get lost in to forget my worries. Then no matter how much I would shake and stutter, I’d be trying.
I had forgotten how to interact with others. I still doubt myself sometimes, thinking, “Why did I say that? What is WRONG with me?”. But that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, you should never define yourself by your failures. And if you never give yourself the chance to fail, you can never learn. That’s a terrible loss.
The more positive social interactions I get, the more I looked forward to meeting new people. Still nervous, but better. Getting better by the day. I struggle with it, as my introversion feeds it. The introversion is wound into my being. I like quietly reading with cocoa and a warm blanket, alone. I like listening to music, alone, or sitting in the park, alone. That won’t change. I just need to be more functional, to not be afraid of speaking up.
This sort of thing doesn’t go away once you start trying. Some days I wonder if I’ve made progress at all! That’s part of healing though, right? I’ll keep fighting to find my way with other people, as long as time allows. For now, I’ve come across such patient people who are so good at dealing with me that I know I’m truly blessed.
Good luck to you in your personal battles, all of you reading this. Keep fighting.