I’ve had so many words just itching to escape through my fingertips recently, but no time to let them out. There’s always something else that is or should be more important–a chore, a deadline, work, the cat wanting attention, etc. These are all good things, yes, but now I have time to write!
Lately I’ve realized that something big about my personality has changed a lot in the last few years. If you know me in real life, you know I’m pretty introverted. Not necessarily the shy type of introverted, but the type that prefers solitude over socializing. I don’t dislike being around people, it just takes a lot out of me, and I frequently need time to decompress and recharge after work or having dinner with a group of people. The funny thing about my job is that it is people–it’s not just customer service, it’s helping other people provide customer service. It’s encouraging improvement in the way my company’s employees work with the public, and for me personally, it’s extremely rewarding to see how that has gotten some of the younger people I supervise to really open up and blossom.
Maybe some of my encouragement towards other people has helped me, too. Despite getting this job because I have a history of being really good at customer service, it’s helped me become way more comfortable with being around total strangers. I can walk up to someone I’ve never seen before and have a successful business-related or small-talk conversation without cringing inside because small talk has never been one of my strong points, and, at least for me, my anxiety tends to make my flaws and shortcomings seem larger than life. Somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, I got comfortable with making other people feel comfortable with me. Not feeling completely awkward with everyone but my closest family and friends is weird, but a good kind of weird. Maybe even the best kind of weird.
Obviously that’s flowed over into my non-work life as well. I find myself leaving the house and actually going places on my days off some of the time. I chat with baristas at the coffee shop and people in line with me at the grocery store. I’ve even ended up discussing Kerouac with a random girl on the Metro when she was pulling The Dharma Bums out of her bag while looking for something else. These are all things I couldn’t (and wouldn’t!) do before.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not magically turning into a social butterfly; I’d still rather be at home doing my own thing than being anywhere else. Yet something about this feels kind of liberating. Maybe I’ll eventually even make non-work friends and get involved in things because I’m not so anxious about walking in and striking up a conversation with someone. It’s crazy how, after a lifetime of feeling like the most awkward person on the planet, I can actually see myself fitting in with people instead of thinking they perceive me as shy or stupid or stuck-up because I wouldn’t say much.