On Writing

What it’s like being a shy introvert?

I recently found out that I am an introvert, and by recent, I mean that in all of my 30 years in this world, I only realized that I was an introvert last year. I always thought that I was just shy or a loner. I didn’t know what being an introvert was and I already forgot how I figured that out, maybe by clicking on one article in my social media feed, I can’t remember.
I had always been shy though. I was never good or confident at recitations at school for fear of being embarrassed or not knowing the answer. Sometimes, I know the answer but I will not raise my hands because I’m afraid to be put in the center of attention and what if I got it wrong? I am still the same now even at the office. The good thing is that I am blessed with a company and bosses who look past my shyness and instead focus on the value of the work I deliver. I have also learned not to over think about the little things such as when the person I greeted didn’t greet me back, I will just tell myself that they didn’t hear me. It doesn’t really matter Dada, it’s not a big deal. Move on.
Meanwhile, the loner thing started back in high school when a lot of my friends got angry at me for what I did to one person and as a defense mechanism, I started pulling away from our group and started doing things on my own like going for my grad picture alone, getting my thesis paper finished alone – things like that. Good thing I was already on my fourth year and will be able to start anew in college. That moment is a defining moment of my time because it made me comfortable being alone which I think is also an essential life skill. I have no issues eating alone or watching a movie alone. I really enjoy being with myself (haha) and I think that is a good thing.
So that’s the history of my being shy and being comfortable with myself. Here is how it looks like now:
  • Working out – at the gym or at home?
I work out at home because I don’t like going to the gym and working out with a lot of people. I tried going to the gym before and attended yoga and other group classes but I would always be conscious about my clothes, how I look, whether I smell (yikes), and whether I’m doing things correctly.
Someone invited herself to join me for a run a few years ago and after running with her once, I purposely avoided running with her again. It drained my energy to always need to check the other person whether we are running at a pace comfortable with her or not.
  • Office
I only talk when it is absolutely necessary. I don’t say hi to people when I come in unless they are my teammates. I am afraid of small talks and I will avoid eye contact as much as possible. I do attend office events but I would rather go there alone, listen to what’s happening and eat, than go there with someone and have to talk with them for the whole duration of the event (unless they are friends I’m comfortable with). I also try and chat with people who wants to talk to me rather than getting into a call with them. Whenever I am on a call, I always get anxious that people around me are listening and will judge me if my English is bad or if I’m not speaking coherent thoughts.
  • Lunch time
Lunch time on a weekday is absolutely my favorite part. I work at a nice office which allows for flexible working hours so I usually have my lunch from 12 PM to 2 PM. I will eat at the pantry while reading something then going for a walk afterwards. I can clock in between 5,000 to 7,000 steps during lunch time which is really good for my health. One of my colleagues asked me why I always have lunch alone, whether I don’t have any friends, and the only thing I’ve been able to answer is that it is because I have packed lunch and my friends do not. I wasn’t able to say that it is my me-time and I enjoy it because the thing with me being an introvert is that I am better in writing than speaking and most of the time, I only realize what I should have said after I have mulled the conversation over.
  • Traveling
Previously, it always made me feel bad when I travel and I don’t talk to the locals because the travel articles always said to talk to a local and ask for their recommendations. But being a shy introvert, I really can’t do that unless I have no other choice. So I would feel guilty because I am not getting the full experience. Now that I know that I am an introvert, I am more comfortable to just travel at my own pace and my own rules – to hell with these travel articles saying what I should do. I will do what I want when I want it. AMEN.
  • Joining a church group
My brother and I joined a church group here in Singapore a few years ago. I didn’t last long because I never got comfortable speaking in English with them. I would always feel bad if they don’t understand what I said and I would blame it on myself for not being eloquent at speaking English when the truth is, everybody has the same problem because of the accents.
One very nice girl tried hard to invite me for coffee and meet with them (she asked me a lot of times) but I would always think of reasons or excuses so I wouldn’t have to go because I will just get anxious once the date gets nearer and the thought of meeting new people and being forced to have small talk with them. OMG. I really can’t. Sorry.
  • Being alone with a person I am not close with
  • Being alone with a person full of energy
Draining as f*ck.
  • Walking my dog
Poor Chichay. I walk her mostly at places and times when there’s not a lot of other people walking with dogs. Whenever I see a dog that is about to cross paths with us, I will immediately turn around and walk the other way. I think I am the person to blame why Chichay doesn’t like other dogs. It is because I didn’t train her to be with other dogs as much as I don’t want to be with other dog owners and talk with them. Small talk is going to be the end of me.
  • Talking with my dog or talking to people I know but not close to
Honestly, I am more comfortable talking with my dog.
  • When friends call me on the phone
This doesn’t happen a lot because most of the time we chat but when it happens, I get surprised and mostly I just figure out a way to hang up the phone quickly because I am no longer comfortable speaking on the phone. What has happened to me? Back in my elementary/high school days, I can spend hours talking with my friends on the phone but now, everything has changed and I haven’t tried to figure why.
  • When you are chatting with your friends online
I am one of the most online persons in the world. If you chat me and I am not distracted by other things, I will definitely reply to you ASAP. However, I have felt drained recently when I am chatting with a lot of people at the same time. How weird is that? I cannot only not handle being with a lot of people physically but also virtually.
  • Go out or stay at home?
I really would prefer staying at home and reading a book but I have responsibilities and I want to be active so sometimes I still go out and go window shopping with my mother or recently, walking on Singapore parks and trails.
I am comfortable staying at home for a full day though and a rainy day at home on a weekend is heaven to me.
So those are some examples of my life as a shy and introverted person. I wasn’t really like that before but I guess moving to Singapore made me a bit quiet and reserved then add to that all my experiences getting embarrassed or disappointing a lot of people.
Overall, I have learned to accept who I am now and I am really enjoying the balance between living a life that is part loud and part quiet. I have friends I am comfortable enough to spend a whole day with. We party, we drink and we have fun and long serious/funny conversations, but I would still need to recharge the following day by having a “me” time, otherwise I will get grumpy and uncomfortable and not useful.
It is all a matter of acceptance and knowing that there is nothing wrong with you if you are unlike other people. Of course, if being shy and introvert is affecting your work and your life, then I guess you need to get some help but mine is a very mild one (I believe so) and I can overcome shyness if needed. I just need to psych myself up and pray to God to lead me and put words to my mouth (seriously, I do this every time). You also need to let the people around you understand that this is the way you are now and they have to accept that. Just keep everything balanced and things will be fine. I am mighty proud of being an introvert and if you are one, you should be too.

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