Photo by Amadeo Valar on Unsplash
This article first appeared on Your Tango and has been republished with permission.
I just started a new job. Some of the people who work there have been there for years, while others have been there for only a few months longer than I. Everyone who works there is really friendly, extroverted and kind — they ask me lots of questions about myself, they want to get to know me.
When we’re growing up, this is how we are taught to relate to people — we learn that when we want to get to know someone new, we ask them about where they come from, what their interests are, and what they aspire to. We know this helps people who are shy or have introvert personalities to feel included, and it helps us to get a better understanding while meeting someone new.
A lot of times people love to talk about themselves — especially when they don't know what to say to someone they just met. They want to pontificate about the ins and outs of their job, their childhoods, their thoughts on politics. They want to be seen and heard.
But what happens when you don’t want to be seen?
What if you are the kind of person who enjoys flying under the radar — an introvert in every sense of the word? What if you’re the kind of person who wants to just keep their head down, do their job and go home?
This is how I have been feeling. You could argue that I am still learning the ins and outs of the job and that I don’t want to fail in front of people. You could argue that I am just shy. But that is not the case.
I don’t want to socialize at work because sometimes I just want to keep myself ... for myself. I haven’t decided if I want these now strangers (chosen strangers, but still) to know me.
There is a difference between chosen solitude and being shy.
The definition of the word shy is, “being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people”.
Choosing solitude is different. It doesn’t come from a place of fear, or insecurity — it comes from a more selfish place. It is the feeling of ownership over your thoughts and stories.
It is the understanding that while it may seem impolite, allowing someone else to get to know you is personal and a choice to be made only by you.
The age of social media has changed our collective way of thinking. When we're online, we think that everyone is privy to our private thoughts and feelings. Social media and the World Wide Web has also created an environment where we feel entitled to the private details of the lives of anyone we come into contact with.
With all of this sleuthing going on, sometimes it feels nice to be selective about the people we talk to and surround ourselves with.
Your story is your story. Your words are your words. You are your own self. You do not owe yourself to anyone. It is okay to choose to keep yourself to yourself.