My shell

introvert1All my life I’ve heard from countless people who I just need to come out of my shell. As if I really have a choice. It’s a strange fate to become a prisoner within your own mind whenever you find yourself surrounded by people you don’t know. I’ve learned to cope at work by scripting opening lines to say to customers. Nothing elaborate or witty, just a simple Can I help you? – or – Is there anything I can help you find? is enough to oven some form of dialogue.

But apart from that, it’s not a true conversation, at least on my part. I listen and offer my advice, suggesting the best option for their price range. Sometimes they heed my advice, other times they get angry because what they want to do is so plain stupid that I just can’t say that it’ll work, and no amount of logic will get it into their head that it won’t work. And when it fails, they do come back angry. Those people just need to die.

But I’m going off on a related tangent. This is about how I relate to people. I only open up to people I like, to people I trust. I can’t fake it. I can’t just talk like some people can. I don’t work that way. Yes, there are a few people who I’m drawn towards, that somehow get me to drop my barriers without me even realizing it’s happening, but that’s rare. Usually, I clam up, answer in short, clipped phrases, and don’t bother to elaborate. It’s just the way it is, though most people are incapable of grasping that one simple truth.

What I get so often, most especially from management, is that I need to come out of my shell. I’ve learned not to take it personally. It’s not their fault they have no grasp of psychology, that people are inherently different, and that my introversion is not a pathological condition that needs to be cured. My social anxiety is another story, but I really don’t want to delve into that bag. We’ll be here for months deciphering that mess!

Instead of appreciating what I do, and I believe I contribute a lot, I’m penalized because I’m not a gregarious personality. I’m naturally laconic, but if they’d bother to take to the time, they’d realize the depth of who I am. They’d come to discover that I have a dry, sarcastic sense of humor, oft-times self-deprecating, but always ready for a laugh. They’d learn that I have ideas and dreams, and yes, that I’m a real boy!

But no. They, as most people, don’t value me, and others like me, for who I am, for who we are. We’ve become invisible in today’s society. If we’re not putting ourselves out there, then we might as well give up. There’s no point trying because we’re not out there hamming it up with the people who matter.

If anyone cares to get to know me, I’ve put myself out there every time I publish another blog. I can also be found, to some degree, in the short stories I write. I write what I feel, what I know, what I fear. This is how I am, a writer trying to forge a meaning full connection to a readership that may or may not care, and that’s okay. I’m going to write regardless of how many people read what I write. I’ll treasure those who do, especially you who take the time to open a dialogue with me. Truly, all I know to say is thank you!

What gets me is being told to come out of my shell. I don’t think I should have to justify myself. I don’t think I should defend myself. There comes a point when it becomes less of a suggestion and turns into another case of bullying. No, I’m not saying that I’m a helpless victim. I’m not. What I am saying is that those who tell me that are inconsiderate and tactless, and quite frankly do me more harm than good. Every time they say that all I hear is that I’m not good enough being who I am. After a certain point, it’s easy to despair and stop caring.

But that’s who I am, and screw you if that’s not good enough. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some work to do, after I watch the new episode of The Big Bang Theory. It makes me laugh, and I love to laugh, but you’d already know that, if you knew me.

This one time at a coffee shop…

With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I decided to try to meet some writers in the area. While I miss my group in Collin County, The North Texas Rough Writers, I have to face the uncomfortable fact that I’m in West Texas for the time being, and maybe it would be a good idea to cultivate new friends in the area. UGH!!!

If you don’t know me by now, you should know that I don’t enjoy meeting people. You have no idea how much I wish I did, but I retreat into myself no matter how much I want to meet and participate. It’s a wonder I’m able to function at all! So, knowing how difficult it is for me, I put on my big-boy pants and I drove to Lubbock to attend a Meet and Greet at a coffee shop not far from the Texas Tech campus. Boy howdy, was it busy!

Not surprisingly, my personality did a full retreat, leaving me a hollow shell of who I really am, but I didn’t run away. I wanted to, but I stuck it out. I ordered my usual hazelnut latte, and found a table where I could sit and do a little bit of writing. When the time came for the meeting, I found myself a cozy table and sat, and listened, praying that I wouldn’t have to introduce myself, but of course I did.

I did the best that I could, seeing as how I become a wreck when I have to talk to a group. I kept it short and to the point, and luckily the moderator took pity on me and didn’t prolong my suffering any more than strictly necessary. After the meeting, I didn’t avail myself to meet any other writers. My stress level was fairly high. I wrote for another thirty minutes and left, disappointed with my inability to make new friends, but pleased that I dared to try all the same.

Now I’m wondering whether or not to try again. There will be a few write-ins during the month, and I want to attend a few of them. For some reason, although writing is a solitary task, there’s something comforting in being in a room full of other people who are also writing. Maybe that’s one reason coffee shops are so popular with writers. Plus, it gets some of us out of the house!

The kick-off party will be this coming Friday and I’m debating whether or not to attend. I have to work until six that evening, and the drive alone will take me two hours. That being said, I’m actually considering it. I would need a place to crash afterwards. I don’t fancy having to drive home after such a long day, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done so. I guess I’ll play it by ear.

I just hope that I’m able to relax and make friends with this group. Maybe they’re not as cool as my friends in North Texas, but I think I should at least give these Lubbock writers a chance. I think they’re good people. I hope they give me a chance, as well.

Oh, I should probably also think about what I’m going to write. That could be useful when I sit down to write, don’t you think?