The gremlin within
I have grown up being an outgoing social extrovert. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told. The first story from my childhood that I remember hearing about was when we moved to a different country and my parents took me to my new school to scope out the kindergarten scene. The intention was just to show me my surroundings, just dip my toe into the water, and then go back home. But I saw that all the little kids were in a circle for story time. Without an invitation, I let go of my mom’s hand and joined in. When it was time for me to go, I insisted on staying and finished off the rest of the day. We also moved around a lot and I was very quick to adapt and make new friends. Easy. Piece of cake.
However, as I got older, I started to become more introverted. I think this is around the time that a little gremlin began growing inside me. Yes, I am referring to my occasional bouts of social anxiety as a gremlin. The thing is, the gremlin has been with me for years, but I have just recently noticed the effects. And what does it feed on? My over-active imagination. You see, once upon a time, my imagination was used for playing pretend and creating scenarios for my Barbie dolls. It came in handy during creative writing at school. But as I got older, this super power of mine started to get out of hand and went into autopilot, stuck in negative gear. When I daydreamed, it was less about pleasant situations and more about what I didn’t want to happen. Very delicious food for the gremlin.
As an adult who went through many changes in the span of just a few years, I have only just acknowledged the gremlin’s presence. And when I say just, I mean last week. Literally. I started to notice a pattern whenever I needed to attend a social function, especially if it involved new people. I would be annoyed and resistant to going; I’d spend an hour moping around, expressing my disappointment. But that is only if the invite was last minute. If I had more time, then I would spend even more of it in my grumpy cave. Then, once I arrived to the event/lunch/coffee date, I would be fine. The more familiar part of me would emerge; I would be chatty, bubbly, engaging–basically all the positive attributes of a socially confident human.
Once I successfully realized I had social gremlin-itis, I started to think about how to cure myself. The solution I came to is simple–of course, everything in life has a simple solution, it’s just that we enjoy overcomplicating things! I just need to stop pretending that I know exactly how a situation will turn out and embrace the fact that every social experience is an opportunity to grow and learn more about other people and myself. I also need to shift my mind-set towards positive thinking instead of embodying chicken little and thinking that the sky is falling. Everyday.
In other words? Stop feeding the gremlin within.