I’ve been an introvert since before I can remember. It was even worse when I was in elementary school. Anytime I got called on, I would refuse to speak. All eyes on me for any amount of time was and still is, too much for me. I hate being the center of attention in any large group of strangers. And you bet, I would never raise my hand for anything other than being excused to the restroom. Even then, it gave me anxiety. And presentations, forget about it! I have nightmares about that kind of stuff. I’ve always considered myself an introvert for these reasons. I hate large groups of strangers. I hate all eyes on me. I hate presentations. I will not approach a person first. I enjoy quiet time by myself. It helps me recharge. I hate buying stuff by myself. I hate ordering food by myself. I hate going to shops and stores and running errands by myself. I’ve always been called shy. I’ve always been called introverted.
And a lot of times, my shyness is mistaken for being stuck up and rude. And I hate it so much. My shyness makes me a bit awkward when encountering strangers for the first time. Not all of my encounters are weird and uncomfortable where I’m forcing a conversation with someone I just met, but there are those time when I start to sweat and panic when trying to make the conversation flow. It’s weird, it seems like there’s a spectrum for my awkwardness with meeting new people. Sometimes you can tell by my body language that I am uncomfortable talking to someone I just met, which makes me even more awkward because I’m noticing that I’m being noticeably awkward! And if I notice it, they notice it. Which makes me panic even more. But sometimes, when first meeting someone, I’m so outgoing and automatically comfortable with the person. And I can joke and sit in silence without it being awkward. I don’t know why that happens. But it sometimes does.
Anyways, let me tell you about an encounter when I first met my now-best-friend. This was in the summer session of college. We were longboarding on top of a garage, I was there with my three guys friends and a few of their other friends. And someone brought along two girls with them. Neither one of them knew how to longboard, so they sat along the side of the garage just watching everyone. One of the guys introduced me and (Let’s call her Sara). I said hi, she said hi. She asked me where I was from, and I told her. And to that, I kind of awkwardly just slipped away from the conversation because I freaked out and forgot how to speak apparently. In my mind, I wasn’t trying to be rude. I’m just socially awkward okay.
She went with her friend and sat back down on the side. She was looking at my longboard and I asked if she knew how to ride. She said no, and asked if she could try. And I said yes, and that I could show her how. So I did. But everyone was going down the garage at this time, and Sara sort of started having a side convo with my other friend, so I picked up my board and started longboarding. Again, in no way was this meant to be mean. I was just awkward.
Me and her are great friends now, but just a couple weeks ago I found out that she thought I hated her when we first met. She said I came across of stuck-up and rude. And into-myself. Why? Because she misinterpreted my shyness and my awkwardness as, well, being a stuck up bitch. And if you know me, you know for a fact that I am none of those things.
I was kind of embarrassed and felt awful when I found out what she thought of me when we first met. I told her no! I’m just shy and awkward and didn’t know what to say. And she rolled her eyes and was like…”You didn’t seem shy to me. You just seemed rude.” I wanted to cry.
But lucky for me, this has made me more aware of how people can interpret my shyness, and I’m learning to try and not let that happen anymore. Damn shyness. It’s always causing problems.