Before COVID and the shutdown of the world, I was happier being at home versus big social gatherings. It took my patient husband (and a lot of effort) to get me out of my comfort zone. I am kind of a weird introvert because when I feel comfortable in social situations, I am Chatty Kathy. You can’t get me to stop talking. But when I do not feel comfortable, my brain talks too much and I shut down. My poor husband has tried his hardest to figure out when and where I will feel comfortable, but it is never straightforward. At our last concert before COVID, I befriended the stranger next to me and talked to him the entire night about backyard chickens, Kacey Musgraves older country songs, and good wine.
Fast forward to mid July 2021. Our favorite time of year. Why, you might be thinking? July 4th has come and gone, as has Shark Week. The Acme Tomato Festival has been a tradition for as long as it has been around. Bragging note: I won the framed drawing in 2016 (A local artist is commissioned each year to draw something related to tomatoes). This year was special because we could SIT in the patio area for a modified tomato festival experience. You had your choice of a tomato sandwich or BLT sandwich (hello, who would not pick the BLT?) a tasty beverage of your choice, and complimentary chips. We made plans to go early in the week but as it came time to actually go, I felt my anxiety going up. Leaving the house means uncertainty to my brain. And since this was never fun to begin with, throw in a pandemic, and socializing is downright scary. As we stood in line waiting to pick up our sandwiches to eat outside, I had to tell my brain that it was ok. Being around people outside of my family does not have to be scary. Guess what folks? My self-talk worked. The husband and I had a great modified Tomato Festival experience at one of our favorite places to enjoy all things tomatoes.
But this whole experience got me thinking. How many other weird introverts like me are out there struggling to get back out there in the real social world? I cannot be the only one struggling with this weirdness. We need to get back out there. Build our social stamina. But whew, I’m tired.