that “in my element” feeling | a shy extrovert

I’m odd. It’s a well known and often stated fact. But let me tell you another reason why it’s true:

I’m a shy extrovert,
who has some definite introverted qualities too.

That’s weird. And I think people think it’s impossible. But it’s not. It’s who I am. It always has been. But people don’t often really know that. Even some of my best friends are baffled by the shyness sometimes when it shows its face.

I’ve been thinking about this because yesterday I went to a girls’ night at Anissa’s with a bunch of her friends. I had only ever met one of them before. It was fun. There was dancing and all sorts of silliness involved. But I sat and watched most of the time, laughing and enjoying myself – but not really joining in. Anissa told me, “You’re being weird! Come dance!” So eventually I forced myself for a song or two. But I was pretty much not “FUN GOOFY SHANDA!” at any point of the night.

So I went home and I thought to myself, “Why did Anissa say I was being weird?” And I realized that it’s because she is the life of the party kinda girl. And I’m often right beside her, doin’ the FUN GOOFY SHANDA thing… and we’re the life of the party, together… but that is because over most of the years of our friendship she has seen me when I’m “in my element” or around “my people” and in those circumstances, the shyness fades away. But if you take me “out of my element” and put me with more than 3 or 4 people that are new to me, I’m shy and maybe kind of awkward for a while.

And that is pretty much the story of my life right now. Because…

There is NO WHERE that I feel like I am “in my element.

I feel out of place these days, almost always. And that’s okay. It’s a season. And it has purpose. But, I guess that means it’s a season that will be filled with the shy and awkward part of me. Eventually, I’ll get to where I’m going and I’ll find “my element” – whatever that will be – and FUN GOOFY SHANDA will show her loud face! I’m assuming.

I’ve not always really appreciated the shy part of me, because I’ve always loved PEOPLE and FUN [even on my shyest days – like when I had to count to ten to get the courage to raise my hand and ask my teacher if I could go to the bathroom]. I NEED people. I get my energy from them. So, at various stages I’ve tried to force the shy out. But let’s just face it, it’s part of me. It always will be, to one extent or another. And that’s not a bad thing. Even when no one expects it because they’re used to the FUN GOOFY “I love people and can make friends with ANYONE!” extroverted side of me.

Sigh. Life. I wonder how long it will take me to get to where I’m going.
I kind of miss having that “in my element” feeling.

In the meantime, I’m giving myself permission to be shy and awkward when I need to be… AND when I am, it doesn’t mean something is wrong. [I am reminding myself that, while also informing concerned observers.]


6 thoughts on “that “in my element” feeling | a shy extrovert

  1. Wow. I stumbled on this post from “Growing a Family” and feel like I could have written it myself. I’ve always been the shy type (except around a few close friends) but am in the process of forcing the shyness out since we moved to So Cal last year. Some times it’s easy, most times I’m just awkward – but you’re right, there’s nothing wrong with that. Good luck finding your new “element”!

  2. Shanda, thank you for sharing this! I can’t even tell you how this ministered to me. I often feel this way, I’ve always called myself a beaten down extrovert, but I like shy extrovert so much more. Thank you again for sharing this, it really made my morning. Wishing you many blessings :)

  3. Yep. Been there. I don’t feel like I’ve ever fully gotten over it in Dallas – not sure why. My mom tells me I need to learn to be okay with feeling awkward. That’s hard.

  4. oh this is me id had a group of mates id grown up with from aged 11 i was the centre of attention for many years and was the funny guy the main man cut a long story short there have all since settled down im now a loner almost and no longer in my element and seem to notice my shy side more but long for that protection of my group of friends that never saw that in me!

  5. Wow, this describes exactly how I’m feeling at the moment. Until I started college, I pretty much labeled myself as a “shy introvert”. But as I meet more people and continue to build my social skills, I feel more like a shy extrovert. (labels are tricky aren’t they…)Thanks for this awesome post – I really liked how you ended with the idea of accepting your shyness/awkwardness instead of trying to force it aside.

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