wanderlust

Newfound Outlook On Socializing As An Introvert 

Painting by Naomi Okubo

Painting by Naomi Okubo

Socializing, in the 21st century, with the dawn of social media, is at its peak.

It’s natural to be completely drawn to it, what’s not okay is to forget the ethics and rationale behind it all. Nowadays, people even have knowledge of what you ate for breakfast, or the new song you can’t stop listening to, or if you watched a movie for the millionth time.

Everybody is in the spotlight; everyone is hungrier for recognition. The more well connected we are, the more our expectations and competition increase and the more vulnerable we become. With so many eyes on us, we tend to alter ourselves subconsciously to appear more suitable.  This “well-connectedness” is having quite an impact on our self-identities. It’s becoming more and more about how others view us, rather than how we view ourselves.

We need more validation, we need more authenticity. We are too involved in each other’s lives. This fact doesn’t sit well with many people because socializing now isn’t something that goes away if you close your eyes. It’s essential to everyone, whether they like it or not. Times are changing and they demand us to adapt. And for people like me, who have trouble adjusting to this, there has to be some way we could adapt to it all without altering ourselves.

Socializing has always been a nightmare for me. Initially it was just reluctance to meet other people because I didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation and merely listening drained me. Then, later on, it escalated into anxiety; the impending fear of going through that process again was just brutal.

Meeting or talking to some stranger for the first time is an excellent or dreadful opportunity that I’m presented with that I’ll have to re-evaluate who I am and identify myself and introduce myself to this person who doesn’t know me at all.

Maybe that’s why it’s essential to socialize, so we keep discovering and rediscovering ourselves over and over again.

Painting by Naomi Okubo

Painting by Naomi Okubo

If we remain with the same people we’ve always been with, we don’t grow. We don’t challenge ourselves. We don’t outgrow our weaknesses because we’re not aware of them. Or end up feeling comfortable with the inevitability of us ever overcoming them due to the constancy of love provided to us by our loved ones, in our “comfort zone”.

We’re always tied to the dock, just rocking on the waves and never going further. Old friends are the safe harbor for us.

Meeting some new people makes me aware of the deficiencies or positive qualities I have. Reintroducing yourself is a great way for self-development. It gives you a strong foot-hold on who you are to the person you were before.

That’s why socializing is essential to human beings. As much as isolation is important for self-awareness, socializing with the right crowd is equally essential, if not dreadful and exhausting for some or most people. It takes a toll on introverts, though. But a balance is essential to living healthily. And a balance with sufficient and smart socializing and introversion is the aim or goal for a meaningful existence.

Socializing is more sensible if the people you’re socializing with are the type of people you’re most comfortable with. It’s less draining. Choose your crowds carefully. You should figure out why socializing is draining for you. I think, more than the act of socializing, the people you’re socializing with are more of a contributive factor as to how you view socializing.

For example, socializing was draining to me, for the following reasons:

  1. People always talked about other people’s misfortunes/fortunes, which had nothing to do with them. Discussing other people’s lives is just a way for people to feel good about their own uneventful life. I could never see the appeal in all that.
  2. Small talks. They reek of awkward subtext. Forced socializing makes it even worse. People prefer to be isolated than feel awkward about something they could’ve avoided.

Filtering your social crowd isn’t just highlighting their flaws but you should figure out whether they’re unsuitable because they’re unethical to your world-views or just because you’re too scared by their openness to things you’ve always been closed off to. You’re unhappy most of the time because you don’t listen to yourself. Rely on your gut-feeling.  You know what you want. Stick to it.

Another important thing is, maybe it’s draining because you’re forcing yourself to not be alone. Some people can’t stand to be alone and constantly seek crowds as to not be alone with their own thoughts. If you’re lacking peace, you won’t find it anywhere but yourself.

Honesty is the most important aspect in all of this.

You have to be honest about others and to yourself. Keeping others or yourself in the dark about things you’re not comfortable with discussing like other people or certain issues or if you’re not sure whether your opinion would cause drifts between you and your group. If you feel suppressing your own voice in order for your relationship with the rest of your group to remain intact, you should be more respectful TO yourself.

The thing is, smart socializing is an art and anybody who has an idea on how to deal with oneself is an artist that knows how he/she can deal with others too. Once you know yourself, others don’t matter all that much.  Don’t hate socializing, understand it and use it smartly and efficiently.

Oshin Ahlawat is a young poet and writer based in New Delhi, India. “I believe people who write are like tornados and cyclones. We wreck a lot of lives; for better or worse. It all depends on the people who read our work. They decide where the damage is going to be; the heart or the mind and whether it’s going to be for the good or for worse. I wish to give them the choice to decide that. I’m just going to focus on doing what I want”, she says.