I had an epiphany recently.
I’m a shy extrovert. Or something.
Maybe some psychologist out there can define it better for me after they read my story.
When I was younger I always thought I was an extrovert. Then when I got older I thought I had changed into an introvert. Something happened that made me realize what I truly am. This only matters as it helps me get what I need out of social interactions.
I went to a party recently. I was excited about the party. I felt like I needed it, I needed some people.
The party was fine. I talked to people, sat with people. But I left feeling really sad. I actually cried. On my way home I tried to figure out what it was that I was upset about.
I realized that although I had sat with people and talked with people I had not gotten the connection I needed.
I had sat with people I knew and had joined in conversations, but no one had talked with me. I commented on other people’s conversations. I had sat with who I sat with because I felt like I had to, not because they were the people I wanted to sit with.
At one point a friend of mine came up to me and we chatted for a few seconds, then she went back to the group she had been sitting with. I wanted to go sit with her and talk with the people she was with, but I felt like I couldn’t do that because they were all already sitting and talking together, and like I said, I felt like I was obligated to stay with the group I was with.
I watched people come and go and talk with the people I was with, I was just there. I spent the whole time wishing I had gone and sat with my friend who had made an effort to reach out to me.
I realized that I need people, but not just any people. I need friends, and I need to feel like there is a real connection there. I don’t feel fulfilled by just being around random people, I need to feel like my being there was something they enjoyed, that they cared that I was there.
After thinking about all this I decided what I needed to do was before I went to any more parties was to have an internal talk with myself and decide what I wanted to get out of the event. Then I needed to make an action plan to make that happen.
So I had another party that I was going to go to. I decided that I needed to have what I felt like was a real connection with someone. I wasn’t going to do or talk to who I felt like I should talk to, I was going to do what I actually wanted to do.
I got to the party early. That way I could get comfortable and find my place. Often if I come into a situation where everyone is already engaged, I just feel like an intruder and get that same feeling of just being ‘tacked on’ to the conversations, as I got at the other part.
Someone I know arrived right as I did, that was good because that put us together to start with. I started some conversations with some people and they engaged with me. Later when someone else showed up she sat by me and started asking about my kids. Perfect.
I left that party feeling great.
So, knowing yourself is helpful.