“Hey, how you doing?”
“Good…good. How are you?” I replied nervously as my palms began to sweat and heart began beating so fast I thought it was coming out of my chest. All the while, questions start to bombard my head almost all at once. What’s happening? Why do I feel nervous? How do I end this conversation and move on? Uhg…
Social interactions, the bane of my existence for quite a long time in my life. Each interaction was a challenge, a hurdle, an absolute dread. All of those introvert and shy type of memes and quotes you see online, I was the embodiment of that plus so much more.
With this came a rise in anxieties and to add on as a bonus, depression.
Someone I knew from my first job told me that you should see a conversation like a battle, which how I see it now, is perhaps the worse advice you can give to someone with major social anxiety. A battle in itself is competing, trying to “out do” the other person. I wasn’t trying to compete, I just wanted to have a decent conversation without feeling like I wanted to die.
Then a few years later, more people came into my life. Too many people in fact, to me obviously. I was forced into a corner when it came to people, literally and figuratively. With all this talking and communicating I felt like I was losing each battle, and when you feel like you’ve lost a battle, it gets to a point where you feel like, well, a loser.
At that point, I even decided to change my major to computer science so I can sit inside a cubicle and never have to see the face of people again. Or, so I figured at the time at least.
It was towards the end of the year during my Junior year of college when something happened where I had changed from a shy, awkward introvert, to just a plain introvert.
You know that moment when you’re backed up into a wall so much so that the only way you can go is forward? Well, that’s what happened and it was uncomfortable, to say the least.
“Jon, you’re not very smooth with your words. You need to keep that in check…” she said without remorse. This was the third time she said something like this to me. A friend that was very good with words and had the charisma of a preacher and a motivational speaker in one.
My heart stopped at that moment and I was at a lost for words, she said a few other things I couldn’t quite make out due to the pain I felt at that moment. This is why I didn’t talk. This very moment is the perfect example as to why I never wanted to open my mouth in the first place. My mind was in a rage, my judgment clouded. People were all around me giving me a nervous, awkward look. I simply scratched the back of my head and the moment gracefully passed like a storm that has come and gone.
But this was it, this is what I needed. As much as it hurt to hear, I needed that verbal slap in the face, even if it was for the third time in front of other people. My mind went into deep reflection after that night for a few days, pondering on my reality.
Yes, I’m awkward. Yes, I’m shy. Yes, I hate people.
But, it doesn’t have to continue to be this way. And that’s when I began to grow.
Senior year rolled around almost without noticed and there I was, working with a group of people and taking part in lively discussions, engaging with each person I met, and continuously enhancing my social skills with the human race through embracing community. More and more I had begun to come out of the shell and even enjoyed the presence of people in my life
All it took was a realization of who I was, which from there, allowed me to grow beyond myself and into a world that I didn’t know I’d be a part of. Loving the people around me and being the social butterfly I didn’t think I would be, in my own way of course.
That is how I went from being a shy, awkward introvert, to just an introvert.
Listen to this episode on my podcast today!
Follow me on social media