Since I was 5, I used to love being alone.
I remember when I was 4, I would insist on staying home alone whilst my parents went to the supermarket. At the beginning, they wouldn’t let me but after so much pleading, finally they accepted. They would disconnect all the electronics and come back in less than 30 minutes. But I never did something that could hurt me, since then, I was allowed stay home alone when they would go to see their friends and, to be honest, I used to enjoy that a lot.
Then I grew up and started primary school, I was always a kind of a weirdo, but I forced myself to become more friendly and have lots of ‘friends’ as it was how it SHOULD be, because all kids want to have friends don’t they? But for me, it was tiring, mentally exhausting and I hated to have to be in certain way just because that was how ‘normal’ people should be.
I remember I used to be a very imaginative person, I do not know if it was due to the lack of attention, my loneliness or what but I used to imagine stories. When I got a radio as a birthday present, I would start to record music on cassettes and play soundtracks to my imaginary adventures. I always loved being alone and just watch tv, read or play on my own. But everybody told my parents that it was not how kids were supposed to be. I NEEDED to have friends, be less grumpy and less sad, less antisocial, I needed to be ‘normal’ or I will never achieve anything.
I am not going to complain about the people that I forced myself to meet. I still talk to some of them, I learnt from others about who you can trust and who you simply cannot. Only until college, I felt that I finally started to have real friendships. I keep in touch with those girls, and God! They are amazing human beings! But a part of me feels like I wasted so much of my life trying to be what the people around me wanted me to be. This made me bitter inside and I was always angry. I went through a lot of phases during my days as a teenager and I did very stupid things, to my parents and to myself.
I do regret some things that I have done, but there is nothing that I can do now. Thankfully, somehow, I started to discover my real personality. I stopped to force myself to be open, friendly and try to sympathise with everyone. I am done with that, I am shy, I am introvert and I get anxious when I must face human interaction, and you know what? THAT IS OK, people who are really interested in having you as a friend or know you better will do their effort to get closer, then I can decide if I will do an effort or won’t waste their time. But forcing yourself and going against nature just because ‘you must be like that’, is not worthwhile. Believe It or not, all that social pressure makes you miserable, being quiet is not bad, being shy is not bad, what makes it bad is the perception that you must be extrovert, happy and friendly all the time. I used to feel more under pressure when my dad used to tell me ‘my colleagues said that you are too quiet at school, that you do not have friends’ and this made me feel like something was wrong with the way I was and what made me comfortable was wrong and it had to be changed. I have been there, I have been in the position where you feel like you are not good enough for the world.
Now I do things that I never allowed myself to do when I was a kid-teenager, as my father or classmates or ‘friends’ will find weird. For example, I hide in the bedroom when the delivery man comes with our shopping and come back one he leaves. Like pretending that I do not speak English when people are trying to sell me or talk to me on the streets. I secretly enjoy when crowded trains force a person to seat next to me and I can feel how much effort the person is doing to avoid touching my arm. I do not feel like a weirdo anymore, and it feels amazing.
Sadly, not everyone can just move and find a place where they feel more comfortable, so for you, who gets anxious when the doorbell rings and you were not expecting someone. You, who every time you are in a crowded place/festival/street and feel like you are suffocating and you just want to scream and run away. =You, who has been through the dilemma of wanting to attend a certain party/event but feeling nervous about knowing there is going to be a LOT of people and wondering if you can handle it. It is OK feeling in this way! You are not broken, you are NOT weird, you are different, but as I have said before, different is not bad. It is beautiful and you should embrace it because, at the end of the day, the only person you should care about pleasing is yourself.
It is difficult, especially when the majority of the people who surround you might say or have said things like ‘you are just exaggerating’, ‘it is in your mind’, ‘you are a control freak ’, ‘you are just being dramatic’, ‘you just want to get attention’, ‘there is not such a thing’, ‘my uncle used to be like that and now he is NORMAL’ ,’you need to go out more’…
When this happens, the best you can do is find someone who will listen to you, your mum, your siblings, best friend or partner. They will always care and if you feel your family loves you, they will not understand, just ask for therapy. I know it sounds scary, but when I started to work and earned my own money, I went to the psychologist. It was one of the best decisions of my life, after a heart-breaking breakup I felt lost and I needed guidance. The psychologist will not tell you what to do, but they do something even more important. They listen to you, they DO NOT JUDGE YOU and sometimes they help you to figure out what to do. Whatever you decide to do, it is important that you are doing it because you want it. Believe me, once you start to accept yourself, everything becomes much easier and better.
If you are still not depressed about being introvert, but people keep telling you that it is not normal, do not listen to them. Always remember, there will be someone for you, somewhere, make sure you surround yourself with the right people.
Thank you for reading! X