I’ve been asking myself this more and more recently. Over the last few years, I have become less inclined to socialize and more inclined to hibernate. Just to be clear, I have never been a 24-hour party girl, but I do find that it's becoming more of a rarity for me to be out past daylight hours!
After hearing a few comments from my peers, I started to wonder if this was an issue I should be concerned about. I don't want to become a total recluse, but I also don't want to force myself to be doing something just because I feel I "should" be. I think that as the years have gone on, and the longer I have been a journalist, the more introverted I have become. Being a journalist means I have to speak to strangers everyday, often asking them extremely personal questions. For someone who can actively avoid others, you might think this a little conflicting, but I genuinely find interest in worlds outside of my own. Perhaps if I worked in a solitary job I might feel differently, but working in a busy newsroom surrounded by thousands of people means that when home-time comes, I crave peace.
Perhaps the biggest reason that I have become concerned about my inclination to make an early exit is because when I returned from treatment for my eating disorder, I was told that relationships and connections would be my saviour. But this is harder to do when you naturally feel more comfortable being a homebody. This being said, I think I am slowly finding a happy medium. If I prioritize the events and people I do spend time with, I find that I don't feel so anxious about it; quality over quantity.
What I am really saying is that we are all different, and that is okay. Some of us have heaps of friends who we're constantly hanging out with. Others have have less of a desire or need to be social, and there are many reasons why this could be. The main thing is to be conscious of why. I have had to workout when and why I am choosing to be alone, and when and why I am avoiding being social out of fear. I have equally had to be aware of when I am holding back in a conversation. Is it because I genuinely don't have anything to contribute, or is it that I am afraid to have my voice heard?
I am by nature relatively quiet, and have often had people ask me "Are you okay? Is something wrong?" Sometimes it can be really frustrating when I am actually just being me. The idea that we should all be the life and soul of a party is unrealistic and unnecessary.
Being time-poor and having friends spread out all over the place also makes it harder to pop over to a friend's for a quick catch-up, but I also realize that making an effort is important. I was reminded of this last weekend when I went to a friend's wedding and spent a day chatting to many familiar faces, but also many new people. I loved the feeling of connection, and I could feel myself feeling incredibly grateful to be amongst such lovely people.
As I have come to accept myself in my recovery, I have learnt to accept parts of me that have only recently surfaced. This is by far one of the best things about recovery; being on a constant journey of self-discovery where nothing and no one stays static. I have learnt to grow with myself without fighting my authentic self, and in a world that pressurizes us to conform, I am more than happy to not fit into a box.
Written by: Laura Hearn