Welcome! “Stories of Self-Love” is a series about my instances of learning about self-love. It’s a concept I struggle with a lot, not necessarily in understanding how it works, but putting it into practice. I’ll talk about certain times when I realized how I was not tending to myself the way I should have, concepts of self love that I’ve come to realize as I’ve grown older, and how I plan to incorporate these into my daily life. And what better way to start this series than the story that inspired it!
So for those who don’t know me, I’m pretty much an introvert. This doesn’t sound all that surprising, considering I’m a child of the internet, but according to my Psychology of Personality teacher that I had during college, I’m the classic definition of one. This doesn’t mean I avoid social interaction, or that I’m uncomfortable talking to people, as a lot of people think. It just means that social interactions with new, or even large amounts of people take some work to the point of feeling tired, whereas an extrovert would actually feed off of that kind of energy. They crave it, and NEED it to feel good, whereas an introvert needs some time to recharge before wanting to do it again.
Now picture me, this introvert, in a situation where he might be attending a large social event…alone. It’s scary, it’s daunting, it was the reason I gave myself mental pep talks all day that had little to no impact on my anxiety about how a large group of people would interpret my personality in just a few hours of interaction. An LGBT group of gamers (“gaymers”, if we’re going to get really technical) holds these parties every month, and I decided to go to one by myself at one point, but awkwardly hovered over people in hopes of them sparking up a conversation, which isn’t quite how to talk to people. I understood that too, but was my lack of social bravery, especially as an introvert at a party all by himself, going to let me actually start a conversation with anyone? Of course not! If people approach me, I’m more than willing to converse with them, but the minute you propose me approaching someone with the only reason being to “just talk to them,” then it gets weird for me. I need conversations starters! But anyway, I digress.
After that time, I decided going alone to those events was a bad idea. I really want to keep going to them, but not at the cost of being disappointed in myself every time after I leave. Of course, with this in mind, I was free one Saturday evening when they’d be having another party. Now, mind you, I’m in a weird stage of my life where most of my friends are either too busy with their post-grad life, or have moved across the country for grad school or a job they found, so my pickings for friends are very slim when it comes to going with me to places. And even with that kiddie pool of friends to pick from, they could still be busy with other plans.
So guess who would be attending alone?
I wanted to go, for sure. There was no question about that. The only thing stopping me was that I would be alone. So throughout the day of the event, I was trying to weigh out the pros and cons of attending the event by myself. More often than not, it was me chastising myself, thinking my avoidance of social gatherings is why I’m single, why my friend pool isn’t growing very much…all those fun things. But the thoughts were an even mixture of pep-talks and doubts about how the night would go. The time of the event grew closer, and I got to the point where I was picking out an outfit for the party when the realization I’d been waiting for all day finally hit me: I have to love myself enough to know when attending alone is right for me.
Because of the natural separation that happens with friends, I was trying desperately to convince myself that I could be the type of person to attend social events alone. I figured that I’d have to be comfortable with it at some point, in the event that I move away and have no one to go with me anyway, so why not start early? But after the first party, along with one other time that I won’t even bring up because I legitimately had zero conversations with anyone, the determination was fading. That fading determination was starting to feel like a weakness, but in that very moment when I almost got ready to go to the party, I realized that it was stronger for me to know my limits than it was to pretend I could thrive in a situation I wasn’t ready for.
A lot of people might not agree with believing that this is self-love, since it seems more like a restriction, but I feel like knowing your limits and being mindful of how you’re feeling about pushing those limits is a big part of taking care of yourself. Sure, I can attend things alone, but it’s something I really have to push myself to do, to the point where I’m not even sure if I’d feel good about it. I could possibly do it again, but as long as it was my choice and after I knew I was ready for it. However, this taught me that I don’t have to constantly be willing to take on this kind of bravery. If it’s not for me, then it’s not for me, and I’m able to love myself a bit more for knowing when taking leaps by myself into large social situations is right for me.
I hope you enjoyed this first post in this series! I’m hoping to continue this for a long time! Thank you for reading, and remember to take care of yourself.