I tell people sometimes that I am socially awkward. Other times I say I'm antisocial. Occasionally, I call myself an introvert. Almost always people argue.
"But, you're really not!" they wail.
"But I really am." I answer back.
People don't think I am any of those things because I am a talkative and energetic conversationalist, a constant story teller. I like to make people laugh and I sort of like to be the center of attention. Those things are not at all part of those words up there. The words I use to describe myself.
I had a boss once that described it as "holding court." As in "Jessi's holding court at the other end of the table." And yeah, I guess I do that.
What people don't see, or understand is that it's more complicated than that.
For one thing, talking to people... is exhausting. Especially people I don't know well. Meeting someone for the first time is terrifying and oh so tiring. Sometimes I say really stupid things because I'm so nervous about talking. Sometimes I forget a person's name moments after learning and rather than just admit I forgot it, I'll carry on a relationship with that person for months or occasionally years without ever knowing their name.
That's not say that I don't enjoy being around people. I do. But I don't want to be around people. I'm not sure how to explain the difference, except that I avoid social situations, but once I force myself into one, I generally enjoy myself. There are exceptions. Sometimes I am so out of place, so floundering that I can't have fun. Sometimes all that fear and awkwardness looms up and keeps me from talking at all. Then, because I have other issues and neuroses as well, I spend the rest of the time believing that they must think I'm psycho-killer-weird because I never talk.
A few years ago, I realized something very important about myself. I cannot spend an entire day at home. I will go stir crazy. I have to break out at some point. Go to the store or pick up dinner. Just drive around. Flop down on the couch at my mom's house. I cannot stand to be completely insulated for that long.
Recently, I began to understand that the flip side is true, too. I don't do well if I don't have some quality time with my own couch. Too many days of coming home late, rushing around to get the kids ready for bed and then collapsing and I really and truly collapse.
And the thing is this: I'm not typically anxious in social situations, but I am extremely anxious about social situations. To the extent that I very often just talk myself out of having any social situations.
This has led to a life lived without a great deal of outside contact. A life filled with acquaintances whom I like and enjoy, but few real friends. If a friend is someone who will help you bury the body, I need to buy myself a good shovel and some work gloves, because I may just be out there myself.
And let's face it, with my temper there's bound to be a body at some point.
I've been working on this post for a little over a week, and part of the reason why is that I'm just not sure why I feel like this part of my story needs to be told. I hope that someone reading this can relate and that it's a little "Hell yeah," for someone who needs it, but beyond that... I'm just not sure.
I want to be different. I want to connect and relate to people the way that I used to. But I'm just not sure how to start.