Hello, my name is Amanda, and I’m an introvert.
Growing up, people always assumed I was some kind of weird snob that didn’t want to associate with members of a group, or they assumed I thought I was “better” than those around me. All this because I didn’t talk.
Truth is, I was terrified.
I desperately wanted to be part of a group of kids. I ached to be invited to parties, and yearned to be asked out to the movies or to go bowling. Why couldn’t I simply be comfortable hanging out with a group of friends? I was so scared to death and self conscious of always saying the wrong thing.
I was terribly afraid of too much silence in any conversation. It gave me terrible anxiety. I was worried the kids were expecting me to act a certain way, other than like myself.
I Assumed They All Thought I Was Weird
I remember going to school dances, and hugging the walls for fear I would make a spectacle of myself.
I would go to church youth functions and leave, having said not a word. In my warped mind, I assumed they all thought I was weird, and didn’t want to interact with me.
Then there was group work at school. Fugetaboutit! It was enough to drive me to need medication intervention to make it through.
I distinctly remember the awful feeling of dread, not from doing the work itself, but having to socially interact with people.
I am still afflicted by the introvert bug to this day. I have a fear of being in a crowd, yet invisibly alone. I have a very real phobia of meeting with a person one-on-one, even my immediate family at times.
It causes near panic attacks, because I dwell on the fact that there might be silence or lulls in the conversation.
I spend entirely too much time berating and analyzing everything I say. I even stress over what I’m doing with my hands.
Talking to people on the phone or on FaceTime? Forget it!
There Was Only One Problem: There Were People There
I had the opportunity last weekend to attend an awesome meeting for work. I was so excited about going, and had been looking forward to it for weeks.
There was only one problem: there were people at this meeting I had never before met. I was a mess.
First of all, it took me two hours and six outfit changes to get ready, because I was afraid of being judged on my appearance.
Then, the entire hour and a half drive there I was giving myself a pep talk.
“You will make an effort to talk to people. You won’t just sit in the corner trying to hide. You will introduce yourself.
You will be confident.”
I repeated all the things to myself, sweaty palmed, on the way there.
Nobody Cared AT All
It was fine, of course.
Nobody cared what I was wearing, and everybody was nice and inviting as could be.
Me being me, the entire way back home I replayed the meeting in my mind trough a magnifying glass.
Did they think I was weird?
Did they think I was an impostor? Did I say anything wrong?
Yes, I admit it, I’m strange. I’m more comfortable behind a keyboard or reading a book than I am talking to an actual, live human.
I’ve even been known to wear earbuds at the grocery store, so I don’t have to interact with people. Weird?
I say no.
So What Can Help The Anxiety Of Being An Introvert?
Here are 6 things I have found to help with the anxieties of introvertism (I’m pretty sure I made up that word):
Positive self talk is a real thing. How many times have you told yourself things like, “I can’t do this,” “I’m too nervous,” “They aren’t going to like me,” or “I look stupid?” Stop!
Instead, repeat to yourself, “I’ve got this! I’m nervous, but that’s to be expected. I can do it! They don’t have to like me, that’s their problem. I’m confident and worthy to be there.
I look beautiful. I look hot. I look confident.”
Positive affirmations go a long way.
Breathe along a square. I know this sounds crazy. Think about the four sides of a square. Trace it with your finger. As you go along the top, breathe in for 5 seconds.
Run your finger down the right side of the square, and hold your breath for 7 seconds. Trace the bottom line, and breathe out for 5 seconds. Now, go up the left side, and hold your breathe for 7 seconds.
You are back at the top, and can start over. Try doing this 5 times, slowly. I’m telling you, it works like a charm.
Take a friend. There is nothing worse than being the odd man out. Take a friend with you, and use them as emotional support.
Don’t hide against a wall with your friend, but use them as a confidence booster to get out there and mingle.
Cheat a bit. By this, I mean have a set of go-to questions or topics. You don’t have to make this weird. Just have something to talk about if there is an uncomfortable lull in the conversation.
It really helps me to have 3 or 4 topics that I can bring up during the course of chatting with somebody. Maybe I can talk about the big storm we had last night or the new hipster restaurant that opened up down the road.
It really doesn’t matter what the topic is, just be a bit prepared.
Talk to a counselor. There is no shame in the game.
I’ve had to talk to a professional about ways to cope with social anxieties brought on by being an introvert.
It was extremely helpful, as they were able to give me tips and tricks to help. Do it.
Embrace being yourself, with all your wonderful flaws and idiosyncrasies. This is, perhaps the hardest thing to do, but it is the most freeing.
Just give in to the way you are, and don’t worry about the haters.
Introverts of the world unite … by ourselves!
Am I the only one afflicted with this condition?
Can anyone else proudly stand and say, “I am an introvert, and I’m not ashamed to admit it?” Let us know in the comments.