If you had told me a year ago that I would be getting paid to teach someone how to socialize, I would have silently stared at you and turned red. For real.
Being the shy, introverted, quiet, private, silent kid has been my identity since birth. Literally, since birth. I didn't cry much, nor misbehave, nor act out. My grandmother only remembers one tantrum, and I never hit, screamed, bit, or harmed anything or anyone (aside from my brothers, but that was self-defense!) That changed as I got into my teen years, but that's another story. As far as my childhood, I was a golden kid. Not perfect by any means, but pretty close to it.
Into my teen years and young adult years, I was still pretty quiet. People sometimes thought I was being rude or snobby, others thought I was terrified of them. There were always people assuming they knew my personality and feelings based on my shyness. However, the reality was, I was just quiet. I didn't have anything I wanted to say. Besides, when I spoke or was spoken to, I was kind of uncomfortable and nervous. Not that THEY scared me, but my thoughts in response to them scared me. Most people have trouble understanding that.
Of course, each year, the expectations grow. People think you'll outgrow it or that you'll magically change. That you'll become the person they want you to be or expect you to be. It's just much safer, I suppose.
I didn't change, though. Maybe a little bit, but not in leaps and bounds. Thus, people worried and put it down. People made me feel bad about myself, or as though I should be ashamed of my quiet nature. They made me think I had to change my ways or I'd be doomed! For awhile that seemed about right. I had no friends, I was scared to talk to my family, and everyone else I met was pretty much out of the question. They didn't give me a chance and I didn't give them a chance. The difference being, I was so present in my own concerns, I didn't even notice or worry about them. Aside from knowing that I wanted to please others by giving them whatever they wanted, I didn't know how to relate to them or what would interest them. Nothing that came to my mind seemed worth saying. Emotional stuff was touchy, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar. Silly stuff was weird and unprofessional and inappropriate. This left me with nothing to work with.
That is, until I started just... going for it. Well, I guess it helped that people were starting to get curious. Curious about ME! The quiet, private, mysterious chick became a fascinating something or other. Those people who scared me were a little nervous about me, because they figured I had something great inside me that they couldn't understand or capture. They tried. They definitely tried to enter through every crack and turn up the focus on their microscopes, but nothing worked. That was then some of those people decided to be brave and work their way into my world. The more they did this, the more I dug into their worlds. We met in the middle and talk about things that were uncomfortable and touchy and unprofessional. Things we never spoke of before or ever again. Things that weren't important in the big picture! But in those moments, we bonded. After doing this enough times, I realized that we're all kind of throwing words out into a black hole and hoping someone receives them and decides to return some of their own.
It was still scary, and I still blush often. I think and re-think and overthink everything I do and say, but... people still stick around! Not everyone. Many people leave. Sometimes I have to leave. But, the ones with whom I stick and stick with me... they're kinda cool.
So, I've gone through a metamorphosis. I've learned a lot in my cocoon. Now I'm willing and ready to share it all with the world. There will be good days and there will be bad days, but in the end, I'm still the same ol' me, and that's gotta count for something! That seems to be good enough for the right people.