I remain convinced that Ethan and I have a much deeper, much stronger love than anyone else. Sort of a desperate, intense love. I love him not only for who he is, but for *how* he is. He understands me in a way that no one else ever has, and I understand him in that very same way.
We are a support system for each other in ways that go beyond husband and wife.
We are both intensely shy and have very different ways of coping with it. I see Ethan succeeding greatly at times, and struggling others; he encourages me as well, and most importantly understands what the real meaning of 'painfully shy' is, and how sometimes it is just breathtakingly hard for me to interact with people. He 'gets' it.
Those of you who do not have an intense shyness (or lack of social skills, as I put it) will never understand the little nuances that take up so much of my brain at times. How I have to actually THINK about trying to make eye contact with someone when I am speaking with them, and then I worry that I am making too MUCH eye contact or that I am doing something else wrong. Or I walk down a hallway at work and see someone I know--do I say hello? Should I make eye contact, or will it seem like I am staring at them?? If I DON'T say something, am I being rude?? If I just keep looking where I am going, does it seem like I am pretending I don't see them??Seriously. I get all stressed out. Sounds dumb, but it really isn't. Aren't you glad your mind is not constantly full of little things like this??
Once I am comfortable somewhere, this is not so much of a problem. I remember at Crane, when in the 8th grade one of my classmates made a remark about how I had said I was shy before I moved there, but they didn't think I was shy at all. Yes, in 8th grade with only 9 students in my class who I had now known for a year, I was fine. Not so introverted. Doing well. But come 9th grade and a whopping 16 extra students in my class (as well as the 60 or so other students in the high school), I was back to being awkward and quiet and lost and terrified all at the same time. By my junior year I was better, at least during the school day, when things were structured. I had figured out that I was smart and 'good' at school, and that was enough to keep me going through the day. It all went out the window AFTER school, but whatever. I had cheerleading and books to read and plenty to keep me occupied.
Cheerleading. The thing I am most proud of myself in my entire life is that I tried out for cheerleading. Now, I do not tell people that I was a cheerleader. I would not want a daughter of mine to BE a cheerleader. I am not proud that I got to wear a skirt etc, etc, etc. I am proud that I tried out. And didn't make it my freshman year, even though others who DID try out didn't even know some of the special kicks you had to learn and demonstrate in front of the whole school. It is a popularity contest, and I lost. Okay. Came back my sophomore year, tried out again. Again, a popularity contest in front of the school. And I lost. My Junior year. Tried out AGAIN. And tied with a freshman who did not know the routines, had not shown up for practices before the tryout. Then the teachers decided that THEY would be the tiebreakers in a second tryout. I went to that tryout and made the team.
Sticking with it when I KNEW it was a popularity contest, and I KNEW I wasn't popular is something that still makes me cry. I am proud of myself for that.
I have been better with my awkwardness since high school. It helps to not be around the people who saw you being so awkward, and have a hard time seeing you any other way. I didn't go to my 10 year reunion because I KNEW I would be scared and quiet and hide and I HATE being that way, so I skipped it. I really wanted to go, but I wanted to go as ME, not as someone who would hide in a corner trying to look like I was happy to be there and unconcerned about anything.
I have a hard time around my family. I KNOW who I am. But being around all those personalities brings me right back and I am uncomfortable and unsure and I totally revert. I really hate that.
In social situations, I suck. I know that. At this point, I don't care so much. I figure that if I am in a conversation with someone and *I* run out of things to say or am not sure how much conversation to have or something stupid like that, it is just as much on the other person to keep a conversation going. So if it dies out, I am not going to let it be an uncomfortable silence. Screw it. I am comfortable. Don't want silence?? Say something to me. I will keep talking. Just can't think of what I should say to lead a conversation.
At work, I am comfortable. I know my job, I know I do it well. I have been there 8 years all together, and many of the nurses there have been there just as long, if not longer. Lots of familiar faces. I am known as someone who is sarcastic and humorous and opinionated and sometimes a bit too loud. I am the one who always has an answer, the one who knows the ins and outs of the computer system we use. The one everyone comes to when they have a question, since I am so resourceful and will know where to send them in the event that I DON'T have an answer. People there don't think I am shy. Not at all. I have a hard time with new staff there that I don't know, but I deal with it pretty well, and after a while, I am comfortable with them, too. No one has any idea.
At work, still the hardest thing I do is when I am working as a floor nurse once a week. The most painful, difficult thing for me in nursing is making myself walk through a patient's door and introduce myself. "Hi, my name is Alyca. I am going to be your nurse today". Absolutely excruciating every time. No easier now than it was 7 years ago. Once I am past that initial part, I am fine.
So. Feel my pain.
There are lots of issues out there that people deal with. Mine doesn't have a pill for it, just lots and lots of practicing.