I mention in this space quite often that I am an introvert. This is a fact about me that’s not going to change. This does not mean I hate people, as some extroverts like to claim. As a matter of fact, I love people very much, and I love a great many people. I have more friends whom I consider “close” than most people do. I just don’t want to be with them all at once, all the time. I need alone time in between social interactions and when I am with people, I do best if it is just one or two in addition to myself.
This is why I refer to any social event involving more than a handful of people as “introvert hell.” If you see me at an event like this, I will most likely be withdrawn into a corner somewhere, miserable and trying to be invisible. If you try to draw me into a circle of people, I will resist (politely, of course). However, if you sit down beside me and engage me in conversation by yourself, you will find me very talkative. In fact you might have a hard time shutting me up. To be honest, you’ll probably learn a lot more about me than you ever wanted to know.
So why am I bringing this up? Every now and then, one of my kids will mention that the mother of one of their friends thinks I don’t like her. I am always mystified and dismayed by this. There are very, very few people whom I really don’t like. Of course, I would never say to someone, “I don’t like you.” But if you know me and I have never said to you something along the lines of, “We don’t seem to have a lot in common,” then you can just assume that I like you, because I do.
I love people. I love staying in touch with my wide circle of friends. I love hearing what’s going on in their lives. In fact I often take the initiative in getting in touch with old friends and setting up a time to get together. But if you primarily encounter me in group situations, and I have seemed withdrawn, please believe me when I say it has nothing to do with whether or not I like you—or anyone else in the room. There’s a good chance that I actually like every single person there. It’s just that being in a large group makes me profoundly uncomfortable and unless I am speaking to the group (which I don’t mind at all) I will try to disappear. Good luck getting me to voice my opinion on any subject in a group discussion—even if I feel very strongly about whatever it is.
If you know me in person, and you have ever thought I disliked you or was unfriendly, please accept my deepest apologies. I promise you, it was unintentional. I probably just had my introvert armor on because I was in a social situation that was way out of my comfort zone. Next time you see me, come over and talk. I promise I don’t bite.