A feeling you don’t experience often. A feeling that makes it all worth it. Being, completely, understood and appreciated. When I used to hear people say: go where you are celebrated, not tolerated. I wondered how that felt. To be appreciated in all your weirdness and shyness. Where the norm was not to constantly speak. Where it is ok just to be silent and content with being you.
And now I understand. I feel appreciated. I feel celebrated. I remember in college at age 18, I joined an extra curriculum which at the beginning I though was going to get me out of my shell. I remember thinking this was going to make me excel, in a way I always imagined I would. Let me tell you, I did not.
In the beginning of the semester we had an introduction camp. And for some reason I thought I would bloom into this great extroverted butterfly. Let me tell you, again that did not happen. This was back when I did not know much about being an introvert and still believed that the ideal person was loud and extra confident, for no apparent reason. But I digress. So I went on this camp for like two day and I found a fellow introvert to hang with. She was cool, but after hanging for a while I felt an extroverted side of her come out. On the last day we were all having lunch at a big long table, my actual nightmare. And I was not sitting next to my buddy. She was across from me, but talking to others, rude… So as I was sitting there, looking around eating my food, minding my business. And the ‘teacher’ was writing down little cards and handing them out to everyone. Guess what mine said? ‘You are gorgeous, show yourself’. Like what does that even mean? Show myself to whom? I smiled at the ‘gorgeous’ remark, cause I had to agree (feeling quite confident as I am writing this, I don’t know if you have noticed… haha). But in that moment I actually agreed, that I had to show the world who I was. I had to be social, I had to be an extrovert, I had to come out of my ‘shell’.
We had class every week or every other week (don’t remember exactly). But what I do remember, is I dreaded going every single time. This extra class was filled with loud extroverts who loved, and I mean LOVED to be heard. We consisted of a group of 20 to 30 students and an extroverted teacher. I liked her, yet she did not understand. For instance as she was leading one of the many group discussions, that I did not join in, she announced that she wanted an answer from someone who does not speak often in class. There were like three introverts in the class, and all eyes were on us. I felt my blood pressure rise, yet I answered the question. I gave a short quick respons, as I was doing this I still stuttered a little and looked down. But I answered. Felt quite proud of myself to be honest. And so when I looked up to see her reaction, and I saw what no introvert ever wants to see, I saw pity in her eyes.
The next time we had class, she apologized, as she was standing in front of the class, she said she had felt frustrated that she always heard the same people speak. And she had talked it over with a colleague who had told her that people will speak when they are ready and want to speak. I do not know who this person was that she had talked to, but God bless you. You understand. And in that moment, I felt understood, appreciated, but yet to be celebrated.