Most people who know me probably wouldn't peg me as extremely shy or insecure. A bit more on the reserved side definitely, but definitely not an obvious recluse. Which just goes to show how much a mask can fool the unsuspecting viewer. I am shy. I am terrified of meeting new people. I'm still trying to figure out why. My most recent theories are varied.
A. I'm scared of meeting people who may change my life forever because I like life the way it is (for the most part.)
B. I'm worried about being able to keep up with more friends than I already have. It's really difficult to maintain close friendships with more than a few people, at least for me. Which is partially why my circle of friends is so small. Well, the friends I keep up with on a regular basis that is. With the invention of Facebook and the like, it's been easier to keep up with all the people I don't see all the time. And, of course, not talking to people for a while means that you have more to discuss when you do talk. But I still worry about losing the close contact I have now if I add more people to that list.
C. I think the biggest fear revolves around a rather huge insecurity on my part. I know I'm not supposed to care what other people think of me (relatively speaking.) I mean obviously I don't want to cease caring to the point where I sink into a murky pool of apathy and lax morals (not that I'm in any danger of that). But I shouldn't care so much whether people like me or not. Apparently, I'm a likable person. I'm pretty sure I don't come across as someone who worries excessively about what other people are thinking (whether I admit it to myself or not.) I can hold my own in a conversation with strangers, mostly by listening and responding vs. having a more active and vocal part. Unless, of course, you get me going on my favorite topics like books, movies or Macs. ;) But anyways, I suppose it's some kind of defense mechanism, to a certain extent.
I think it's safe to say that C is the most relevant and important issue at hand. I've definitely gotten better at not needing to be part of the "popular" crowd. I never was part of that group. When I was growing up, I really wanted to be accepted by them - but we had relatively little in common. I was definitely on a more innocent level than they were, for which I am forever thankful. And once I made it to college, I didn't care so much about the popular crowd (especially after a year or two of observation.) There is no way I'd want to be included in such a shallow group. Of course, I'm sure they've all got good qualities of their own, but as a whole they seemed rather sad.
So even though I've dismissed the "populars," I still struggle with acceptance in general. I thank God for my friends who love me just the way I am, even with all my odd quirks like a Barbie movie collection and the unstoppable desire to balance on sidewalk curbs. But I worry too much that new groups of people will think I am strange, boring, or unsuitable for inclusion. Rationally, I know that this fear is completely unfounded. I shouldn't allow my past to infringe upon my future. All I have to be is myself (even if I don't fully know who that is yet.)
Of course, all this talk still fails to fully chase away the butterflies that invade my stomach whenever I prepare for a new experience. My gut feeling is to burrow away into my hole so as to avoid any possibility of rejection. And for a very long time, I willingly followed that feeling. Due to the influence of my amazing friends, I am finally forcing myself to step outside my shell. I know there's nothing to dread. But I'm realizing that it's going to take a lot of time and effort to convince my irrational, emotional side of that fact.