This archived article was written by: Katrina Wood
Some people like big, loud parties. Others prefer scrolling through Tumblr. A few find joy in both. Some are a bit scared to make friends, despite their desire to be around people.
It’s an interesting dynamic, to say the least. Wanting to be around people, but being too shy to make friends—such is the life of the shy extrovert. Or to put it into perspective, such is the life of yours truly; Katrina Ashlie Wood. I like being around people.
But wait, did you read that right? The girl who’s written articles about trying to make friends and struggling to do so actually likes people, despite her ineptitude around them?
Well, yeah. I love spending time with groups of people, telling jokes and making others laugh, listening to loud music and dancing like nobody’s watching. I find joy in shining and sharing my happiness with others. Every once in a while, I enjoy being the center of attention and receiving recognition for my talents. Simply put, I love being around people.
But being around people I don’t know? Trying to make friends? I’d almost rather grab a snake by the fangs or touch a spider, and both freak me out.
Making friends isn’t impossible. I’ve endured a handful of nasty experiences over the years that made the task daunting. For me, socializing is like swimming in a pool full of dolphins and sharks. All I know is there are a lot of people; some might be nice and some might be mean and I have to jump in to find out which is which.
Because I’m so me, though, before I jump, I start thinking about everything that could go wrong. I panic that I may not be capable of swimming. I worry that the dolphins will be too happy doing their dolphin thing to let a newcomer join the ranks. I fear I’ll get bitten by sharks. Sometimes, I look into the water and cringe because holy crap, it’s green—and not that beautiful tropical green water you see in pictures. The green that tells you the filter is broken, or there’s something that died in the pool and was never fished out.
Needless to say, I often back away from social interaction before it happens.
It drives me insane. I want to make friends, go to activities and go on dates, but instead I sit around twiddling my thumbs, worrying if my fellow dolphins and sharks will bite.
And you know what? I’ve had enough. For too long, I’ve been unwilling to leave my comfort zone. Though I’ve known there’s something better waiting beyond it, I’ve rationalized waiting around with claims of, “at least I survived.” I don’t just want to survive anymore, I want to live.
I’m done waiting for people to reach out. I’m taking matters into my own hands and applying the only advice I have for making friends: jump in. I’m not just jumping into the humble kiddie pool anymore. I’m diving into an unfamiliar, Olympic-sized swimming pool.
After reflecting, praying and graduating in the spring, I’ll attend a different college in the fall. For the first time in my life, I’ll be away from home. The close friends I’m most comfortable with will be miles away and so will my family. I’ll have to work harder than ever before to make friends, and though I should feel terrified, I’m surprised to say I’m not.
Perhaps after all these years of fighting my hardest to be confident, I’m sick of stumbling over myself and being shy. I’m tired of trying to make friends without yielding any results, and I’ve decided I’m ready to dive in, no matter what lays in wait. Whether I’m standing tall or shaking in my boots and whether its sharks or dolphins I meet, I’m going to make friends at my new school and have a great time doing it, and in the process, I’m going to tone down on the silly analogies.