Life can be so ironic sometimes. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted and wanted and wanted something so badly, and it hasn’t happened. Then as soon as my desires change and I no longer want it anymore, it appears. The universe clearly has a sense of humor, it seems.
My latest example of this ironic twist in action has to do with my social life. I have not had much of a social life or very many friends since I graduated from high school. For various reasons, I was an outsider in college and graduate school, which limited my friendship options. My working life has generally yielded work-based friendships that did not often result in spending much time with people outside of the office. For years, I pined and pined for a more active social life and friends to do things with outside of work, but it never materialized the way I had hoped.
Because I also lived alone, this meant I spent a lot of my time by myself. As an introvert, I dealt with this just fine, but I had a deep-seated belief that I’d be happier and more fulfilled if I could just break into the social scene.
As I’ve gone through so much change in the last few years, I’ve spent even more time alone even when I was living with other people in the house. I went back to my wishing and hoping to create more friendships and have a more active social life. I was sure that having more friends would make me happier. After all, isn’t that what the research says?
I pushed myself to go out do things where I’d meet new people, and I have had some limited success in making new friends. But as I’ve had to balance working, schooling, and keeping up a house (that has extensive yard-related responsibilities), my spare time for socializing narrowed. Now that I’m focusing more deeply on writing, which requires a lot of reading, pondering, brainstorming, experimenting, and editing in addition to the act of writing itself, my need and desire for solitude has grown stronger than my desire for social activities.
The irony is that now I have more people wanting to spend time with me than I have time that I’m willing to give. Even when I make myself as scarce as possible, people keep coming to look for me! It’s just bizarre (at least compared to what I am used to).
It’s not that my social life is that active even now And it’s truly not that I dislike these people. There’s nothing wrong with them. I still have plenty of time for deep, intentional connection and conversation with those people who I’m close to, so I’m not a complete hermit. I just don’t have much time that I’m willing to give to the kind of casual social interaction that I once craved.
I’ve finally made peace with the fact that I am an introvert of introverts, and I have accepted this part of me as a blessing and joy rather than fighting against it wishing I was more like the extroverts in my life. People aren’t bad, but there’s not nearly as rewarding (in most cases) as time spent alone writing and reading. But this leaves me having to say no to people more than I really like to have to do.
I’m slowly getting used to saying no more often. I’m accepting the need to disappoint people I like when I’m not willing to participate in their social plans. I’m gradually letting go of the guilt that I can’t be the person other people want me to be in this area. I’m gaining the strength to choose what’s right for me even when it’s not “normal.”
But it’s still ironic. How much I would have given for all those years to have the kind of invitations I’m getting now! And how much I would give now to have the kind of freedom from invitations I had then.There’s probably a lesson in this somewhere … or maybe it’s just a twisted sense of humor on the part of the universe. At least I’ve grown up enough now to see the humor.
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