It seems that the most socially acceptable type of person is an extrovert who goes with the flow and has no problem making friends. For a long time, I felt like I was unacceptable because I didn’t jump at the opportunity to hang out with people. Before transferring to the school where I graduated, I went to a school that always had events. Students were always out of their dorms, interacting with other students on campus. After a few days of it (yep, a few DAYS), I had enough. My two roommates would invite me out, but I would politely decline. Even more time passed, and they would still ask me. I would get angry at them, not because they were being rude, but because I felt like I was doing something wrong. I didn’t want to hang out with everyone else. I wanted to be by myself or a small group of other people. While other people wanted to make small talk while being surrounded by people they didn’t know, I wanted to share my feelings with a close group of friends that I did know.
My failure to conform to the way society told me to behave gave me anxiety. There was a battle within me: should I suck it up and act more extroverted, or should I become a shut-in and forget everyone? At the time, I didn’t understand this terminology, so instead I said to myself, “What’s wrong with me? Let me take out my frustrations on my friends and family.”
Ultimately, I became a shut-in and forgot everyone. As a result, I didn’t talk about my emotions or struggles with anyone (which, I discovered later, is something I need to do in order to maintain peace). I was in a completely different environment with people I didn’t know, and I was trying to find a balance between schoolwork, my emotional health, my spirituality, and my social life. I felt alone, and I needed help. Instead of asking for help and looking to others for support, I found my own answers. I developed a prideful attitude, that only my advice would work for me. I believed that no one else could help me, and that no one else could tell me what to do.
As I became more mature, I started to discover more about myself. I took a few personality tests (the free, online versions!) and I learned that my personality is different from the socially acceptable type. Although I enjoy to be around people now, in reality I still need time to myself in order to feel calm on a regular basis. I tend to make decisions based on my emotions more than rational thinking, so understanding my emotions is important for me. Finally, I am a person who thrives on structure, so last-minute changes in plans frustrate me. Therefore, when I am in situations that involve interacting with a lot of people that I don’t know, making rational decisions that do not consider emotions, or changing the plans last minute, I tend to have more anxiety than in situations that fit my personality type.
In order to move forward, it is important to know yourself. You were created in a way that is good, even if it is different from the rest. I encourage you to take a personality test or ask yourself questions to help you understand yourself better. Take a look at your life and notice when you were anxious in the past. Was there anything in the situation that went against your personality? Now, I am not saying that you should avoid all situations that make you uncomfortable. You will have to interact with people who are different from you. However, if you know yourself, you can be better prepared. When you know yourself, you become more comfortable with who you are, and it is easier to have peace.