Introverts have a hard time finding the right social environment. We often get stuck accepting what we know instead of looking for something better. We think that we need to change ourselves to match our environment, not the other way around.
In reality, we should be spending less time in ‘fish out of water’ situations and more time in environments that bring us joy; less time with strangers and more time with loved ones; less time trying to fit the mold and more time finding spaces where we can spread our wings.
Instead of always trying to fit in, we should find people and places that fit us. Tweet this
Like most things in life, this is easier said than done.
Introverts get used to being in social environments where we feel out of place. We get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
In his article, My Life Report, New York Times columnist Stanley Fish expresses the feeling quite well:
“What I didn’t do so well, and haven’t yet done, was figure out how to be at ease in the world. I noticed something about myself when I was married to my first wife, an excellent cook and hostess who knew how to throw a party. My main job was to dole out the drinks, which I liked to do because I could stand behind the bar and never have to really talk to anyone. (“Do you want ice with that?”) My happiest moment, and the moment I was looking forward to all evening, was when the party was over and failure of any number of kinds had been avoided once again.”
Like Stanley, we all have social obligations to fulfill. We have to go places we don’t want to go and do things we don’t want to do. But what about the rest of the time? Should we be spending our free time in social situations that make us feel bad about ourselves?
One of my favorite Susan Cain quotes perfectly sums up the answer to that question:
“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.” ~Susan Cain
Maybe those ‘friends’ that you dread hanging out with aren’t really your friends. Perhaps that uncomfortable feeling is your inner voice telling you there is somewhere else you should be.
Even good people can have a negative influence if they are not the right people for you. They can try to change you, drain your energy or create an environment that makes you uncomfortable.
It’s not about finding friends who are perfect. It’s about finding people you can appreciate and vice versa. It comes down to deciding who will help you grow and who is just weighing you down.
I recently wrote a post entitled I’m Not Socially Awkward (Except When I am). In it I relate how certain social situations make me feel incredibly awkward while others feel more natural.
It took me far too long to realize that I was wasting a lot of time and energy in the wrong social environments. I hung out with people who could not fathom why I would not want to drink every night of the weekend. I could sense that they thought I was strange because I didn’t like the same activities as them. A couple of them even told me outright that I was weird.
I had the sense that I was trapped inside myself because I couldn’t relate to them and vice versa. I forced myself to endure these types of situations for lots of reasons. Convenience, boredom and apathy were the main ones.
The truth is, I had forgotten that there are people out there like me. I have met a few of them and each time it is like a breath of fresh air.
If you haven’t found your ‘right people’ yet, don’t give up. Remember, it all starts with embracing who you truly are. As the wise old Dr. Seuss put it:
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss