From Left to Right: Marie, Oreo, Giselle, Bear, Glory, Totoro, Lamby, and Pooh
I’ve done more with friends during the past week than I had in the past six months. Each day I’ve done something with special people, and it’s making me feel so great that I have to share!
“Hanging out” used to freak me out. I hated it. This was partially due to paranoia, and partially due to my introverted nature. For me, paranoia takes the form of thinking that my friends and family members hate me and wish that I were dead. I constantly felt like the awkward +1 and doubted whether anyone even wanted me there. I used to try as hard as I could not to use the bathroom while hanging out because I was terrified that when I left the room to pee, everyone would talk about how much they just wanted me to go home.
Since I’m not feeling paranoid right now, I can understand how ridiculous and unhealthy these thought patterns seem. Obviously my friends want to spend time with me like I want to spend time with them. They don’t want me to die, and they don’t want me to go home so they can have more fun. I’m sure I can be annoying just like everyone else can (especially when I’m manic and laughing like a hyena), but true friends overlook those things.
Actively fighting my paranoia has allowed me to spend more time with great people. I’ve been able to completely relax while hanging out, and staying busy means less time in bed feeling sorry for myself. As Sean Covey would say, win-win! Spending time with others is also helping me value myself more as an individual. I am starting to realize that I am someone that is (usually) enjoyable to be around. Note: This does not apply when I haven’t had enough sleep.
While it can be downright painful to step out of our comfort zones and face people instead of the TV, it’s absolutely necessary. Talking with others forces us to challenge the stories we’ve been telling ourself about why we’re not good enough or plain not worth it. Gaining comfort in social situations is a slow process, and I haven’t transformed into an extrovert. I still enjoy my alone time a lot, but leaving the house and talking with interesting people has been a rejuvenating experience. I still usually need a nap afterwards, but overall I feel much more positive. Everyone says that humans are social creatures and require interaction, and I’m finally understanding that I am not exception to this rule. I think even the most introverted among us can benefit from social interaction. It’s all about finding the right people with whom to share your time, and luckily, I’ve found them.