Guide to Living as an Introvert and a Homebody in a Social World

Tricia Chadwick

Let the awkward people stay home already.

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I confess I am an introvert and a homebody. Quite possibly venturing in social anxiety territory. They make T-shirts for people like me with sayings like—

"Sorry I'm late, I didn't want to come" and "NamaStay home," both of which I own, by the way.

For people that are both introverts and homebodies, leaving home is uncomfortable. 

Anticipating social interaction is uncomfortable.

I say anticipating because the pre-game is the worst part of any social event, at least for me. 

I always work myself up for situations, interviews, meeting new people, large gatherings, uncomfortable social situations in general. I assume the worst will happen. 

I actually visualize the worst happening in my head, which I know, is the opposite of what you are supposed to do. 

"We suffer more often in imagination than in reality." – Seneca.

I often imagine vomiting on the person instead of shaking hands. I imagine calling them the wrong name. Terrible visions that come out of nowhere. 

Like a scene from Ally McBeal, I know most of you are probably too young to remember that show. But it's a good show, and it's a pandemic. Look it up. You have time.

I, and others with anxiety, have horrible, self-defeating thoughts that need to be knocked down. I like to say them out loud to expose these absurdities and make them go away. This usually works. You can try it on your own crazy fears. We all have them.

"All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we're giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That's one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver." --Mr. Rogers

As I am now a wise middle-aged woman, I feel I have some experience living as a wannabe hermit in a 'Let's go out' world. I would like to share it with other introverted homebodies that wonder when they will be allowed to retract back into their shells.

Childhood 

"Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life"--Susan David.

Childhood is a complete discomfort when you have social anxiety. Kids go wherever their parents take them with no say in the matter. There's no control. 

And school! There's no getting out of school. 

College can be the hardest for those with anxiety. Especially living in dorms. I barely made it through the one year I did that. It was a year-long headache.

But then you grow up. I promise you do get through it. 

The pain and discomfort of childhood and (ugh) the teen years become a distant memory so fast that some people wish for them back.

This is alright, you think. You're an adult. You are the master of your own destiny. 

You get to choose this time. 

And you choose to have children. 

Parenting

"Perfect parents exist, but they do not yet have kids."--unknown.

And you experience childhood all over again. 

This time it feels more like the Olympics. You and your child are partners, with a spouse's help if you're lucky. Getting them to successful adulthood will be a team effort. 

During the child-rearing years, you and your child's performance will be judged in several events:

  • Disposition
  • Appearance
  • Your home
  • Your neighborhood
  • Intellect and speed of development
  • Level of affection
  • Quantity and quality of enrichment activities
  • Involvement in volunteering and fundraising
  • Your life choices
  • Your income level
  • Your child's athletic ability
  • Your husband's availability to coach
  • Your skill level at baking

For the socially anxious, introverted homebody, the child-rearing years will mean lots and lots of social interaction, judgment, and leaving your home. 

There will be days when you do not return to your home. 

You will supervise overnight field trips. You will staff bake sale tables at all-day swim meets.

You will attend curriculum nights and meet the teacher events where you will awkwardly shuffle through the school with a crowd of other awkward parents. 

Teachers' conferences are the weirdest.  

You will be really worried about embarrassing yourself, and you definitely will at some point, but please don't sweat it. 

I'm a crier, whether things are good or bad, so even when a teacher tells me my child is lovely, I cry. Every single time. Kindergarten through high school, with three children. I've managed to tone it down to a watery eye and reddish nose reminiscent of Rudolph. 

It's pretty embarrassing, but I've made peace with it. You have to be gentle with yourself.

"The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others." --Sonya Friedman

As a teacher myself, I can tell you that educators tend to be the most socially anxious introverts you've ever met. 

Honestly! 

Kids are just fine, but if you want to stress out a room full of teachers, tell them it's time for a parent meeting. 

There is no need for you to stress about embarrassing yourself because they are likely too busy worrying about embarrassing themselves to notice. 

You will happily do all of these uncomfortable things for your children because you love those little people so very much. 

You want to give them every opportunity and experience in life to be self-assured and confident adults. Or maybe they will be introverts and homebodies too. There is something to genetics.

Worklife 

"Do one thing every day that scares you."-- Eleanor Roosevelt.

Work can be challenging for the introverted homebody with a touch of social anxiety. 

It's tough to find good-paying jobs that allow you to work from home. Hopefully, the pandemic will change all that, and employers will see that some people are simply more productive at home. 

Meetings are a part of work-life that are particularly challenging for types like me. 

  • Why does everyone feel the need to meet all the time? 
  • Am I the only one noticing that the same people talk at all of these meetings? 
  • Can't they just sit down and have a chat and then email the rest of us the decided outcome? 

It would be time saving and cost-effective. 

Teachers, in particular, are subjected to an excruciating amount of meetings each year. 

Meetings about best practices for: 

  • teaching
  • using technology
  • lesson planning
  • writing reports
  • dealing with parents
  • identifying student learning issues
  • assessments
  • grading
  • new federal standards
  • new state standards
  • new district standards
  • parent meetings
  • team meetings
  • administrative staff meetings
  • curriculum meetings
  • PTA meetings
  • Afterschool activity meetings

It is exhausting!

In addition to attending and participating in these meetings, they must actually do what they are meeting about every day for a 90-200 student load. Honestly, people do not understand how difficult it is to be a teacher.  

Any job is difficult, though, being an adult is not for the faint at heart. 

There are ways to make adulthood more comfortable. I have developed strategies that, at times, I have been afraid to use. I didn't want to be rude or hurt someone's feelings. But the older I get, the more I'm prioritizing my health. I'm using my tools. I'm dusting them off and putting them to work.

Make yourself a priority this year too.

Tool Box 

  • Say no when you don't want to do something. 
  • Intentionally choose how to spend your time.
  • Speak up if you have a time or money-saving suggestion.
  • Stop worrying about what others think.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people.

So if you are anything like me, happy to be home, comfortable in your surroundings, don't feel like a weirdo! There are lots of us right here at home. 

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Small business owner, teacher, and mom. I write about learning, health, parenting, and animals.

Torrington, CT
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