I am socially awkward. If it were up to me, everyone would wear a name tag and I would have the option to first write down what I want to say before speaking.
I am terrible at remembering names. To help me remember, my husband suggested that I use the name of a new acquaintance before the end of the conversation. I have tired but I still can’t seem to make the association between names and faces easily. Most of the jobs I have had since high school have required me to build some sort of rapport with clients. I did familiarize myself with the regular clients but my relationships with them rarely reached a personal level. My husband thrives in jobs where he can interact with people. He has had plenty of practice. He spent several years in sales and now holds a management position. I am sure he succeeds socially because he is friendly and he can make conversation easily. I, on the other hand, am terrible at small talk. This makes starting a converstion with a stranger difficult. My husband has made friends with people at the airport, random people standing in line, and anyone who responds to his generous smile. When it comes to social finesse, he and I are opposites. We compliment each other in many other aspects of our relationship, unfortunately it isn’t easy to see.
With two people who seem so different, the head scratching and comments to how he and I manage to work have surfaced. My husband was in his mid-thirties when we married. It seemed like so many people waited for him to find just the right woman, and then he met me…. Maybe it was the anticipation of who he would finally marry but I have felt as if I have fallen short of some great expectations. I was the clock radio instead of the HD television in the big gift box at Christmas or the free cat instead of the designer dog everyone wants. I was the shy girl instead of the perfect compliment to my husband’s outgoing personality.
I can’t say for certain that I am an introvert, but I am close. The world does not respond well to introverts. My point has been gratified while writing this piece. Synonyms for the word introvert is defined as a person who retreats mentally; autist, brooder, egoist, egotist, loner, narcissist, self-observer, wallflower, and solitary. In all fairness the same online dictionary listed show-boat, life of the party, and exhibitionist as a few synonyms for extrovert. When I looked up the word outgoing, a few synonyms listed were kind, easy and approachable. All words I would use to describe my husband. I define myself as somewhat shy so a few words used to describe my personality are as follows; distrustful, backward, and wary. “What the ????” How does one break the mold of the pre-defined? Shy, unlike outgoing, did not have the word kind listed as an acceptable synonym. Maybe I should cause an uproar about this. Just because I am shy, doesn’t mean I am not kind. Who do I write? Who is in charge of defining an acceptable word to describe a personality trait anyway? It certainly isn’t a shy introvert.
A few years ago, I took my oldest to his kindergarten screening. My husband (bless his heart) told me it would be a great opportunity to make friends with other parents who would also be attending the screening. What he didn’t realize was how scary it was for me to sit in a room full of strangers. Thank goodness I had my infant daughter with me. She felt like a shield between myself and a room full of snakes. I held on to her tight. She gave me the excuse I needed to avoid small talk. As hard as he tries, I know my husband doesn’t understand this part of me. Making friends is as natural to him as writing is to me. Texting and messaging are my friends. Unlike talking, I don’t need an immediate response, rather I can take a moment to think before I reply. That day at kindergarten screening was intimidating because I tend to over analyze what I say. I feel like I need more than the appropriate split second between small talk to think about what I want to say. I know I can be aloof with my words and I often stumble over them. Opening myself to someone else feels like I am baring my soul. Once I open up, I feel like I am open for scrutiny. Scrutiny to an over-thinker like me is like picking an open sore. I know my short comings; it’s even harder to hear them aloud.
This blog is a scary step for me. I feel like I am in the dream where I am wearing only underwear in class, except my underwear is bright yellow. It is easier for me to have a bit of anonymity while allowing myself plenty of time to reread my own posts several times before publishing. I know my writing needs some work, but my goal is honesty. I want to break barriers for others who can relate to me. I am shy and possibly an introvert, but I am still kind. I can still be open, honest and given some time, even I can handle small talk. Exposing myself to others is difficult and making new friends sometimes feels more like an experiment rather than a natural part of life. I am that girl other people really don’t know if they want to sit next to at the reception, or ask to carpool , or see on the arm of someone so outward and full of life. No one knows what to say to me and it can appear that I think I am too good to make conversation. It isn’t true. I am just scared and I need time to let my guard down. Be warned, if I let my guard down and I get hurt, it will take a long time to earn my trust again. I ask not to be defined by typical definitions but allow me to define myself.
As for my husband and I, we make it work because despite our outward differences we are a lot alike. We can and do talk about everything and enjoy similar interests. Most importantly, we work because love is not defined by a book, dictionary, or any other person’s perception of happiness. Love is not defined by words, but how someone makes you feel. My husband could have found that one woman that exceeded the expectations of all those who waited for him to find his perfect match. Everyone could have unanimously agreed in excitement that he had finally found “the one.” It did happen but he had to find that definition on his own. It followed his heart ten years and four children later. I made a difficult journey and he took the long road but we met up at the same crossroad and decided to take the next step together. If we decided to let others define us, we would have missed the realization that we were truly what the other needed.