I prefer to do my shopping online, but groceries need to be bought in person. We have a new Publix in town and I love them, they have the freshest bread, meat and produce. But, when you are an introvert like me who also has issues with social anxiety going to Publix is an experience which is hard to describe. They greet you everywhere and make sure you are finding everything you need. If you go down an aisle a second time someone could quickly be there to help you find what you need, which kind of freaked me out the first time. I have to actually psych myself out to go shopping at Publix or opt for the less interactive, but far more socially comfortable Wal-Mart. However, the food quality and variety at Publix almost always wins out when I want to spend my hard-earned pennies on sustenance. I just have to mentally prepare myself every time I go there so that I am ready to smile and not seem rude and to keep from having a panic attack from all the strangers asking me if I am finding everything. Shopping also drains me, and I need a nap after that. Like yesterday, I napped for an hour after I went shopping for my weekly items. The good thing is, I know if I can’t find something at Publix that all I have to do is find the staff member who is probably following me around and ask.
When I was in school – high school mostly, I was painfully shy. I wasn’t a popular kid, but see I was kind of okay with that. I know some of my classmates would disagree with me about being shy because I was, well I am, a talker. But, it could take me a long time to get to talking. Things like giving speeches in front of the class terrified me. I really thought my dislike of giving speeches was writing up the outline, but my tenth grade English teacher may have figured out that it was more than that because he told me to audition for the school play. I stumbled along through high school with my small group of friends, but even with that group I was on the fringe, in part because I didn’t grow up with these folks, I came into the community in the 8th grade. As I got older I began exploring why I am the way I am. I know now it is because I get very socially anxious. I have made inroads at putting myself out there to be less anxious and I am getting better at what I call my socialization experiments.
I know now I was like this through grade school, high school, college and through the present. Sometimes making connections for me just seems to take so much work, I have friends who are naturals at it. One of my good friends seems to know everyone in town, granted this is Charlotte NC and it is a small town, but it is fun to watch him network and I wish I was more like him. I have always kind of been on the fringe of a group often included in things, but never feeling like I was truly part of the group. I feel it most when I try to initiate some sort of gathering, because you see I LOVE to entertain, I can throw an amazing dinner party.
Oddly enough online I do not really have any of these issues; I truly feel I can be myself on the social networking venue. I know it is partly because there are few distractions in my little office.
My mother encouraged this introverted type behavior. She did not like us looking for friends outside of her self defined group of proper people, which generally meant kids from church and our very small family circle. People from school were bad because they were according to my mother “out to get me and they weren’t with God” Again I was okay pretty okay with that, it wasn’t like I knew any different really, but it did color my attitude towards the people I went to school with, I never bothered to get to know anyone very well. I had a small group of friends at school but only one was allowed to visit my house. I remember when my closest friend in high school invited me to go shopping at the mall and we would get there by riding the bus, or it may have just been that she got to go shopping at the mall and I wanted to go with her I forget which. My mom actually accused her of being a bad influence on me; I was 15 or 16 I had never been to the mall with out my mom or grandmother. Anyway back to my friend and the argument with mom. Mom actually tried to tell me that my friend would lead me astray and we would get attacked by some rapist or something. This argument had been a theme with my mom for ages something was always unsafe especially if she wasn’t there to control it. I had to remind my mother that my friend also went to church and we were both fairly smart girls and I had ridden the bus to her workplace in downtown Seattle, I didn’t see how that was any different from riding the bus 10 miles to the mall in Federal Way was any different. I did get to go to the mall, but I think my friend’s mom dropped us off and picked us up this was the compromise so that I could go shopping on my own with my friend.
We went through another bought of turmoil when I left to go to Western. The Friday before I was to leave my mother decided to have a temper tantrum and threatened to not help move me up to Bellingham, she was off on a her theme that college was unsafe and that the people up there would corrupt me and take me away from God. I had to reassure her that I already had the church picked out that I would attend, that our pastor had called the pastor of that church and talked to him and had assured HER that the church was a good one. I spent two days trying to figure out how I would get my stuff to school with out her. On Sunday, move in day, she relented and helped move me up.
I have to say at Western was kind of where I discovered that all was not normal in our little house, it took about a year to realize this. That the control my mother, and eventually my younger brother wanted to exert over me was not just bordering on abusive, but it was abusive. I spent the next ten years pulling myself out of the environment I grew up in and tried to create a safe non threatening environment for myself with friends and the rest of my family. It honestly took me moving 3,000 miles away to get out of the circle of influence that those two people in my family had over me. I know the change in me could not have happened any sooner, although I wish I could go back sometimes and try to create friendships with some of the people from High School that isn’t tainted by my attitude. I kind of regret that now I live 3,000 miles away from all these people who I have discovered aren’t so bad after all.