Saturday, October 27, 2018

Calling All Webtroverts: Shyness is Nice

    What's a webtrovert, you may be asking yourself.  The answer is quite simply a person who is shy and introverted in the outside world, but open and bold on the internet.  Truth be told, I think, for better or worse, there's a bit of the webtrovert in all of us.  In some ways that's a very good thing.  Take me for example:  I am a very private and reserved person.
          You could know me for years and yet never really know a thing about my interests, my travels, my hobbies, etc.  Not because I'm a bland person who sits at home and has nothing to say.  I have very specific interests, specific tastes, and I'm passionate about so many things, I just don't easily share them.  But, here, in my little corner of the internet, I'm very open and honest with the world and I'm glad that I finally have a place to share my interests, my struggles, my triumphs and my flaws, because finding folks in real life can be hopelessly challenging. 
     On the dark side of this coin, I think everyone who's ever used Facebook has noticed how brave people are with ugly comments, saying things they'd never have the guts to say to someone's face and it's troubling, disappointing, depressing even.  Maybe there should be some distinction between the kind of webtrovert who's a shy person finding an outlet for positive expression, and a malicious coward  who likes to pick fights while hiding behind the safety of locked doors and  a computer screen.  We're not the same thing.
    I've always been shy, slow to trust others, and reluctant to share.  It's driven past boyfriends insane that I was the strong silent one in the relationship.  It's prevented close friendships because I've kept people at a distance instead of opening up.  It's something I used to want to change about myself, especially when one of my loved ones proclaimed during a painfully awkward time in my youth that "Shyness is just selfishness!"  I believed her and started to hate myself for being who I was.  One day it finally dawned on me--She's a prom queen; I'm a Mathlete.  She's the life of the party and I'm the wallflower.  We're totally different and she just doesn't understand what it's like to be shy.  I'm a thoughtful, reflective, caring person who feels things very deeply.  I'm not selfish, or at least no more selfish than the average person--extrovert or introvert.
      The fact is those hurtful words came from an extrovert and simply put, she sees things differently.  An extrovert may think I'm selfish for withholding, while for my part I have seen it as selfish the way an extrovert will dominate every conversation endlessly talking about themselves and their family, job, projects, etc.  I can take it for a while and then I either need an aspirin or a place to curl up in a ball and hide for a while.
    Was my loved one right in her assessment?  No.  Was I right?  Also no.  I've talked this over with her since then and forgiven her for a comment made in ignorance  We understand each other better and subsequently get along much better these days.  There's not a personality type that's better or worse; we're different that's all and we have different ways of expressing ourselves and it's all ok.  So,  if you find yourself wanting to reach out but feeling hopelessly shy, just know that it's ok to be shy and it's also ok to push yourself outside your comfort zone.  You may not ever be the life of the party, but as you continue to stretch your social skills, it will get easier.  And if all else fails, people love a good listener and there's always a place for you here on the internet.  At this point in my life I find myself very happy to be called an introvert and a webtrovert.  It's all just me, and I'm good with that.  How about you?  Where do you fall on on the introvert/extrovert/ webtrovert scale? 

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