Tuesday, February 06, 2007

You're Not A Kid

I'm a little anti-social, I know. But mostly, I'm an extreme introvert. This means that I get my energy by having some alone time in order to 'recharge' my social batteries. In contrast, an extrovert charges their batteries by hanging out and socializing with people. Lots of times when at a party or gathering, I find myself extremely exhausted! People suck the energy from me! Not only do I have to work at being lively but I also have to work on my social skills.

I don't have mature social skills. I don't always, "get the hint" either. And I'm not quick to pick things up in a conversation. I believe this is due to the fact that I've chosen to be a 'loner'.

In 4th grade, it was me and a girl named Theodora who would just watch the kids play. I wished I could join in on the game of basketball or foursquare, but I was afraid of the rejection and the fact that I came in the game too late and they didn't need me. We would both stand up against the wall next to the water fountains and bathrooms of the Washington Elementary school playground in Montebello. We would look at each other and place our hands behind our backs while leaning against the wall. She was always to the right of me, a water fountain between us watching kids play, drinking water and jumping in and out of the bathrooms. Occasionally, when it was free, I would play on the monkey bars and get on the swings. If a girl asked, we would play hopscotch or handball. Thinking now, "Why didn't I play with Theodora?"

In junior high school, my best friends were always disappearing on me. My first best friend, Christina Encinas, suddenly died due to, throat cancer. My second best friend, Angela Cloud, moved to Ohio. The third best friend, Jessica Kendall, also moved out of state. I don't remember where. My fourth best friend Deanna Soto, moved to Diamond Bar and I never heard from her again. Unfortunately, I think from those 'best friend' experiences, I learned to not get to close to people. I've never had a best girl friend ever since. But I chose to close up. I fight that still, but I know better now. I did have a group of friends that were close to me then, of whom I still keep in touch with now. They were friends who were always there for me. Why didn't I consider them my best friends? (Thank you to Lisa Vaca, Glenda Conde, Michelle Echevarria and Evelia Ornelas.) Technically, if it wasn't for them, I'd still be a loner and I'd never have any social skills whatsoever.

But then boys got in the way.

The attention towards my girl friends was divided with a guy I dated, Tim, in late junior high. Probably because I was afraid to get too close to my friends, I directed my attention elsewhere. In high school, I didn't have girl friends that I really hung around with. My junior high pals and I went our seperate ways. I turned into a band geek and the other girls joined other various clubs. So, when it came to friends, it was easier to keep my distance by talking and having good friendships with boys. The fact that my relationship with my father was a good one helped. I saw boys in a positive light due to my fortuitous experience with him. But even then, I chose to not open up. I kept believing that this would protect me from getting hurt. Unfortunately this also means I probably missed out in on a lot of people that could have been great friends with.

Later in high school I had to deal with talking to more and more people. I closed up even more. I gave my heart to a few boys and they broke my heart, but so did I! After that, I felt like I could just move away to another place to get away from people. I started to actually hate people! I was so glad for my distant, but not very strong, relationship with God. I also knew by then who was the love of my life. While most kids were seeking that very thing, I didn't have to worry since I knew even back then, that my frienship with Alex would turn from one of animosity, to one of love.

But hanging out with one person doesn't make you "good" with people. I still hated them, and since I hated them, I spent less and less time with them. Eventually this hate led me to feel lonely. I chose this then, and felt like I could control my situations by not having to deal with people. I went to a doctor for a check up. She asked me questions and concluded that I was depressed. (How she came to that conclusion by just asking questions is really absurd to me now.) She placed me on medication and said I should join a religious organization to 'meditate' and talk to people. What?! She is telling me to do the very thing I hate! No way!

I then describe this time as this:

I'm in a dark morian well, where it is cold and damp, but I find strange comfort in it! And the ONLY hope I have is the bright rope above my head, just beyond my reach! If I jump, I could catch it with my hand and pull myself out of there! But I don't and sit back down in the dark. Just knowing that it is there is my only hope. That rope was to God. "Knowing" that it was there, was the hope in prayer.

I overcame that with prayer. It did take awhile but I did it. I started to listen to the people around me. They were telling me things I didn't want to hear, but I knew that they did it because they loved me so much. I was challenged, poked, stubborn, hurt, and angry--but I still listened even if I didn't always do what they advised. (I thank Alex, Robbie Sortino and Ron Rippy for most of that!)

Now, even though I still struggle with anti-social tendencies, being shy, and insecurity, I'm still learning. I'm unique...but so is everybody else! I've learned much from the people I've let into my life! I've learned to open up more and have relationships with people. Oh how I've missed out on so many people in my life! I have chosen not to allow past experiences to fully dictate my outcome. (Or I would have turned out angry and bitter and fighting for absurd nothings!)

I thank you for putting up with me. Please forgive me if in the future when I speak to you I either sound like a kid, or speak to you as if you're a kid. I'm still learning things about simply having a conversation and I'm constantly improving on my social skills. I should be at my age level in my social skills but feel that I've still got years to go. Being an extreme introvert is technically who I am, but being a person who loves people and actually wants to work with them closely, is something that took time...and patience.

Thanks for waiting so long!


Sonia:) said...

Amanda, thanks for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

My love,

I am extremely proud of you. I know that even putting this out there, making yourself vunerable to not just friends, but in this case, the world, is not easy.

I remember how extremely shy and passive you were when I met you. Dating a guy like me, who isn't very shy, must have been torture sometimes.

But now, you are very confident and secure in your ways. I've always said that you are far more intelligent than I will ever want to be. Now, you are sharing that gift with everyone around you.

You have come a long way. I remember having countless converations about how you neded to stand up for yourself, opening up, taking risks, and so on. Those that have known you for a long time totally have seen this confident change in you.

I'm more proud that you did it without much of my help. I know one of my gifts is definately not encouragement. I know that many times I was impatient with your progress. This truly is God's work.

You are now showing to the world the Amanda that I know intimately. Now the world will see why I fell in love with such a beautiful woman of The Lord.

Believe it or not, I have learned more from you. Thank you for showing me that growth is a slow process. Thank you for not quitting.

Man, I'm the luckiest man in this planet.

Thanks be to Jesus

trazomfreak said...

Thanks. (*blush*)

*.:JeNn JeNn:.* said...

Thanks for sharing... I realize that you are unique but that is what I like about you Amanda! If I ever need to be around calm postive energy I know you are an awesome source! I need that every once in a while!! =o ) Actually alot! LOL!

♥ u just the way you are!

trazomfreak said...

Seriously, I appreciate the positive comments. Not so long ago, I would have had a hard time accepting them.

Jenn, your description of me as a "calm positive energy" is true of me now. But it took a looooooong time!

Even though I am still "shy & passive" Alex, I now don't allow people to walk all over me anymore.

Sonia, thanks for reading. I don't really have a testimony so I guess this will do. :)

Sonia:) said...

Everyone has a testimony..that means a testiment to what God has and is doing in your life. I used to think the same thing...but everyone has a story to tell. :)

Steve said...

More people should spend more time alone, it is good for the soul. Some people love the crowds because they have no depth and no inner-life outside of having to be with people.

Arien said...

I can't begin to tell you how much you've struck a chord with your testimony. One of these days maybe we can hang out together (without the guys) and talk - or just enjoy the silence - you are a blessing Amanda, and I thank God that He's allowed us to cross paths.

Carmen said...

Amanda, I just wanted to tell you that I love you and how happy I am that God placed you in my brothers path. Thanks for being part of our family and putting up with all of us.


trazomfreak said...

Thanks for all your insights and kind words.

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