God blesses some people with the gift of being able to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. He bestows upon some the talent of making others feel at ease, comfortable, valued even from the 1st conversations they share. God has created people in this world with amazing social graces…. but not me. No, for me God decided on shyness, awkwardness, and a total ineptitude for small talk. Words, which I so much adore in their written form, have a habit of escaping me totally when I attempt to actually use them in a conversation, especially with someone I barely know. I get embarrassed when I try to search for something intelligent to say while chatting with casual acquaintances, or complete strangers, or even, at times, family members (especially in-laws). I feel stupid. I sound stupid. I probably look stupid. Social gatherings often leave me feeling insecure and when I leave, I immediately start analyzing all the stupid things I did say, or thinking of witty things I should have said. Many times, I would rather just stay in my nice, safe, isolated comfort zone at home, surrounded by my children who, for better or for worse, rarely seem to listen to me close enough to tell if I say anything stupid to them.
As home schooling mother, I really cannot get away with that very often. Or maybe because I home school, I could get away with it but because I home school, and am therefore responsible for making sure my children are “properly socialized”, it is important that I fight my anti-social tendencies as much as I can. And so, I do. It seems we are always running off to some co-op class, or field trip, or park day, or birthday party. As much as I would like to, I don’t really get to stay home and hide from my social inadequacies very often. One might think all the opportunities to socialize would help me to hone my skills, such as they are. It seems I have the chance to practice often enough I should really be getting better at the whole small talk thing. In truth, I probably am a little better than I used to be at small talk and idle chit chat, but still, I am not altogether comfortable around new people. And there are days- days when I am especially insecure, or especially introverted, or just especially stressed out- when I am not altogether comfortable around those people I do know well.
Ever since childhood I have hated being shy. I have always wanted to be one of those people who others are just naturally drawn to- the life of the party, a social butterfly. I always felt like I was the only one in my family who was shy at all. I always felt like I was the only one at school who struggled with the “normal, public school socialization” of being herded in our peer groups from one class to another and I spent most of my education with my nose in a book to shut out the peers who so mercilessly teased me about my social inadequacies.
Like I said, God blesses some people with flawless social skills and wittiness but, obviously not everyone. And, yet with all my introversion and unease, God has blessed me…abundantly. I have a handful of wonderful, devoted friends. I have a husband I can talk to about anything and everything. I have five children, who though they do not always listen like they should, have shared with me remarkable conversations about everything under the sun. I may feel anti-social and inadequate but God has always put people into my life who are able to look past my occasional (or not so occasional) stupid comments and love me for who I am. I am never going to be the life of the party or a social butterfly. For whatever reason, God did not create me that way. But He does give me so very much… so, I guess I am finally ready to accept my shyness as just a part of who I am- imperfect and awkward but loved, always loved.