I loved reading this post by Dani of eat my street. Her seven point plan for making friends as an introvert really resonated with me. Being an introvert can make finding friends a bit tricky sometimes, not because of shyness – although that may be in there – but because the prospect of falling into a gregarious, group environment can be intimidating and make us a little fearful. The introvert may hold back and not venture out into friend making territory (gosh, sounded a bit David Attenborough there!). This is a bit sad because then we can end up a little lonely. An introvert still needs friends! It’s just that we need time away from them to recharge and stay our friendly, sparkly selves! And so, in the spirit of introvert camaraderie, I thought I’d share a piece I wrote last weekend for Pip Lincolne‘s fabulous online storytelling course.
‘Do you think they’ll come?’ I asked my husband.
‘Of course! Why wouldn’t they?’
I had agonised over the invitation for way too long. Somehow this reserved, wallflower, non-party girl had volunteered to be on the kindergarten social committee and I felt way outside my comfort zone! So why did I do it?
When you are at school and work, social contact is like a smorgasbord. Every day you head to the same place, the same people show up and you pick and choose who you want to spend time with. You don’t have to make the effort to find friends, they’re just laid out for you. The world of the stay-at-home mum is different. There’s no one but you and the baby or toddler. Whilst I might be an introvert and love to have the space of my own time in my own home, I also like having some buddies. I’m not a recluse! So I had to take steps to create social contact by myself. Scary! When the call came out that a volunteer for Blue Group was needed, my reserve collided with my conscience and sense of responsibility. I took a breath and made the call to the ‘President of the Social Committee’! Now, here I was, organising my very own social function!
Well, they did come! It was lovely and friendly and everyone was very grateful that I had been so kind to invite them to my home so we could all have a cuppa and get to know each other. Wow! They thought I was the bees knees! With everyone gone and my house mine once more, a little swell of pride fluttered in my heart. I had done it! I had stepped outside my comfort zone and created something people liked! Pat on the back, me! (Added bonus, one of the mums was a dentist and I was on the search for a new one. She has provided us with stellar care for the last 15 years!)
So with that little bit of confidence, I started to put my hand up for a few more things. I tackled enrolment officer (that’s a great way to get to know people!), parent committees, class reps, ball committees (how did THAT happen??) and then spread my wings a bit further into community volunteer programs, all the while gathering more people into my circle. I found babysitters, fellow taxi drivers, friends to laugh with, friends to cry with. Then the circles started overlapping and it seemed wherever I went the six degrees (or less!) of separation kicked in. It made making conversation and more buddies so much easier! My deep breath had delivered me the oxygen of friendship.
A few years ago, when I was doing a yoga course, our teacher told us that when you are ice-skating, it feels really safe skating around holding on to the edge of the rink. But the rink is large, with lots to explore. If you want to experience that, you have to let go of the safety of the rail. That’s something I try to keep in mind. I’m so pleased I let go of the rail. It has enabled me to write this today and has made my life so much richer. If you’re thinking about doing something, don’t let your introvert fears hold you back. Take a breath and go for it. The worst thing that will happen is you’ll fall and get a wet bum but everyone else is so busy skating they won’t even notice!
How about you? Have you had to step out of your comfort zone to break the confines of introversion?