…but when you truly see her…
I am not a popular person.
I am not the gal who gets invited to the office Taco Tuesday at the local Mexican Restaurant.
I am not the one who walks into an event while everyone looks in excitement that I finally arrived. There are no big waves across the room to say hello. No bee lines to my table to express delight in my arrival.
I am not the one constantly on the list for showers, weddings, or party invites.
I am not the one in which everyone knows my name in the halls of church.
I am just not a popular person.
I am the one who usually eats alone.
I am the one who usually goes unnoticed at the event until days later I’ll run into another event guest and I will attempt small talk about the event and I’ll get the reply, “Oh, I didn’t even see you there.”
I am not the one people invite to group conversations.
Often I can leave an event undetected and seemingly un-missed.
I am the unnoticed, I am the quiet one in seclusion.
As an introvert I convince myself I am OK with it.
Because, I am often the one who makes herself as small as possible so I do go unnoticed.
I have paralyzing social anxiety so I am often the one who looks down at her table during an event, fumbles with her food, or flips through her materials to ensure no one makes eye contact.
Out of fear of not knowing how to be “normal” I hide most of the time. I don’t know how to talk to people, a paralyzing and uncomfortable truth about myself. If I do speak it is often in circles or entirely about myself because I get so anxious I ramble on and on and I completely forget a conversation is give and take. I am like this on several encounters until something switches in my brain I am able to be myself.
The insightful, encouraging, Jesus loving, sometimes witty, quirky person you read here at Faithfully Failing…that is me—that’s my personality. When there are no eyes looking back at me I have the freedom to be me, it’s just not something I can do in-person without a ton of repetitious effort.
I don’t know why I am so fearful of in-person interaction, or why I can’t be me in person.
I have asked God to change me—He declined.
I have asked God why He made me this way, I am still waiting on His reply.
I took the Myers-Briggs once at a marriage retreat (I am an INFJ), the facilitator—a licensed therapist and pastor—said in his eleven years giving that test he had never seen anyone score the way I did. He never elaborated on what he meant but to me he solidified that I am odd. My scores were really hard one way so I guess that is what he was referring to.
As a kid I had friends, not huge circles but a few in different groups. I have struggled to find friends as an adult and I wondered how it was so easy when I was younger, I look back and now see it wasn’t. It was repetition of the same faces every day, the same voices inquiring, “So what’s your story” that sparked those connections.
The friends I have made as adult have been through my jobs, through repetition of day in and day out of the same faces and the same questions inquiring, “So what’s your story.” Those relationships were made over time but usually when the job ends the friendship ends because I again go unnoticed.
I have very few friends. Really I have one close friend, my best friend. I have known her since I was ten. I just moved to a new school and to the city after life on the farm. I lived in an apartment complex near her neighborhood and we rode the bus together in the afternoons. I remember sitting with her and hearing her mom recently died. I remember feeling so helpless to know what to say. From that fifth grade bus ride with the repetition of day in and day out with her we became friends.
Our friendship now spans 27 years. It has ebbed and flowed, there have been years we didn’t stay in touch in our twenties because of distance, college, and just life. We re-connected about ten years ago and we have texted almost every day since.
I was her matron of honor in her wedding.
She was the first I told when I saw those two pink lines that said I was going to be a mama again. I was the first she told when she saw those lines for herself.
She knows when I have a crappy day and she knows when I have a good one.
I know her secrets and she knows mine.
With her there is no fear of eye contact or interaction. When I am with her I remember to have a normal conversation like two normal people should.
We live in the same state but nearly 150 miles apart so I don’t see her very often, sometimes only once or twice a year.
I recently went to an event and I was completely socially overwhelmed and I had to leave, the fear of socialization and saying the wrong thing or figuring out what to say, the fear of eye contact, and acceptance and rejection and all of the mental load that paralyzes me about social interaction became too much and I had to go. I thought the event would be effortless because I had engaged in conversation with the event attendees online for months. Online I was myself, effortlessly encouraging and kind—the traits that I can give so freely to my best friend in-person I was able to dole out to strangers online until I was in front of them. I thought there would be instant connection. I thought the spark of friendship that existed online in our work groups would automatically be in place when we arrived face to face and it wasn’t. I expected my paralyzing social fear to not be present. My expectations were high and the letdown caused me to sink very low.
I should have known that I would not make close connections and have instant comfort, because I should have known I require repetition.
I have wondered, “Why can’t I make friends?”
I think it’s because people strive for instant connection. We live in a world where we expect a spark and a notion of instant gratification. We want to meet someone and say, “Yes! She is my person.”
And that doesn’t happen with me because it takes time and repetition for me to be me, it takes time for me to let you see my spark.
People are busy, we have little ones tugging at our skirts, we have PTA, soccer, and ballet. We have church and work and husbands and all the things that don’t allow us to wait around for the spark to come.
I have so many acquaintances, dozens. People who tried to see if I was going to be their person and when I was held back by my social fear they quickly moved on
and I get it, I come across so awkward at first.
I just wish someone would stick with me and put in the time. I understand that is asking a lot for someone to cater to. I am asking for someone to cater to my shortcomings, and I understand that may seem hard or too much work to put in.
I understand you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it is a lonely feeling that you are no one’s cup of tea. Especially when you think some people are definitely your cup of tea.
I wish I had more people get to know my heart the way my best friend does.
I asked her if she could sum up who I am in one sentence she said this about me,
“She is a deep thinker who observes in silence but when you truly see her, she loves fiercely and warms your soul.”
Her words were so heartfelt and I feel it describes all that I am.
The words… but when you truly see her hit me hard because it is hard for me to get to a point to let people truly see me. I wish it were effortless. I wish it was a breeze to let people in.
For now I will keep waiting for God’s reply to why I am the way I am because there has to be a purpose I don’t see. I will keeping holding out for a friend to come who will put in the time needed to truly see me.
This is me and my best friend, on her wedding day. 🙂