Introvert-Girl Problems

One of my ballet teachers once said something about ballet attracting the quiet people, the shy people, introverts. And perhaps she is right –  after all, the chatter heard from dance students of other forms of dance seems much more boisterous than from the ballet students (I’m specifically thinking of the jazz class that has the studio before my ballet class, or the hip hop class that was in the studio before my ballet class a couple sessions ago). So yes, she is right, to an extent. Yes, those of us who are quiet and shy may gravitate towards ballet, but this definitely does not mean that all ballet students fall into the quiet and shy category either.

As I may have mentioned once or twice, I am an introvert.  Being introverted, combined with having anxiety, being socially awkward,  and somewhat emotional can make things – sometimes everything – complicated. I feel extremely uncomfortable in group conversations (though 1 on 1 conversations work much better for me), shy away from eye contact, and seem to have a much larger personal space bubble than others. I’m prone to tearing up, suck at picking up social cues, and often times I’m terrified that others are upset at me.  Those who are the closest to me have said that I build a wall around myself, and they’re somewhat right. What they don’t seem to understand is that I do it not because I’m upset or angry but because I’m afraid of being hurt. Again.

You can imagine how much fun my teen years were… *sarcasm*

Anyway, one of the things I like about ballet class is that there’s not a huge emphasis on it being a social occasion. I mean, once class starts it’s expected that we’ll all shut up and give our undivided attention to the teacher.  The pre-class period though, when everyone is kind of sitting around sort of stretching while waiting for the teacher to arrive, that is the worst. I mean, there’s some days when I have a ballet friend, another quiet-ish girl like me who’s content to warm up off in the corner, as we quietly discuss the latest happenings in our ballet lives. But when there’s no one there that falls into my “ballet friend” category, yeah, those days suck…

(why can’t I make any other/additional ballet friends, you might ask? Well, for whatever reason, most – though definitely not all – extroverts scare the crap out of me (plus they tend to prefer groups to one on one like I do). In turn, they seem to think there’s something wrong with me because I’m so quiet. “Why are you so quiet?” or “What’s wrong?” I’ve heard dozens of times. It’s like, nothing’s freaking wrong! I’m just thinking!)

Those ballet-friendless days, the pre-class period is so awkward for me, as (mostly) everyone sits around talking.  I used to never know what to do! Now I just go off to a spot as far away as possible and warm up, facing the wall. I worry that they all think I’m unfriendly – or worse, stuck up – but in truth I’m just scared.  Everytime I’ve tried just sticking around and being part of the group it really hasn’t worked out for me – I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do! Like, just sit there and smile? Laugh when everyone else laughs? Look down at the floor and pretend there’s something fascinating there? It doesn’t help that we don’t seem to have much in common, besides ballet. They talk about things like clothes (but not ballet clothes), hair/hairstyles (but not ballet-specific hairstyles), t.v. shows (not ballet related, but by now I think you get the picture), and other non-ballet things.  Sometimes without participating I like to listen, other times I’m bored out of my mind so then I escape to my own world – welcome to Kit-land; population: me!

Despite growing up feeling like there was something wrong with me, I do like my introvertion.  I just wish there were more of us out there, or there was an easier way for those of us that are shy and quiet to befriend each other.  When both people are shy it’s hard for one of them to make the first move, you know? Like last year, I shared a barre in silence with another quiet girl until we finally became ballet friends near the end of the term – all that wasted time!

Wrapping up with a funny and completely non-ballet-related story about my introvertedness: when I was five or six, my mom invited over a small group of girls my age to have a playdate of sorts with me. She left us in my room, then went off to the kitchen to prepare dinner. When she checked on us, she found all the girls playing in my room with my toys while I sat quietly in the living room with a book by myself. She was so mad (and I felt like such a disappointment to her)! I tell this story because I feel like I’ve come a long way, to be able to accept and love my introverted nature instead of feeling like it’s something wrong with me. We’re all just different, with different strengths and weaknesses, and there’s plenty of room for all types of people. 🙂

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Introvert-Girl Problems

  1. Basia

    All I do is sit and smile….and go off into my own land from time to time…
    Sometimes smiling is the answer and nothing has to be said. I choose not to “make friends”, I have occasional chats here and there, when someone else starts the conversation, otherwise I just sit and smile, or stretch/warm-up and smile. I’m happy not to have to feel like someone is waiting/expecting me to be at class, or someone I have to tell I’m not going to be there and so on.
    I might sound weird, but I smile at people (genuinely, not fake) in class and they smile back and I think I come across as friendly.
    There was this exception though, one woman just looked at me weirdly, I tried again another time, but then I get it when people think it’s suspicious that someone is smiling at them… I haven’t tried with her again.
    Most class mates just smile now and say hi and not more and that’s how I like it.

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      When I first started I didn’t really care to make friends with anyone, but as I got more and more into ballet, I thought it’d be fun to discuss which steps we find hard or stuff like that. Nothing too personal for sure, but just ballet related. Or maybe even get together a couple people to split the cost of private ballet lessons.
      I definitely don’t expect the same people to show up at the open classes I take, though it is nice to see familar faces, especially when I’m new somewhere. But in my semester classes, since we commit to the full four months, after a while – or immediately in some cases – people become friends. And when the whole class is friends with each other, or so it seems, it feels so awkward to just walk past everyone and go warm up alone. But I’m too scared of saying “hi” to them or smiling because I’ve always been afraid of looking stupid by saying hi to the popular girls and having them ignore me or say something rude. So I just don’t really try, though if they say hi to me I always reply and smile.

      Reply
      1. Basia

        I guess it might just happen accidentally that you find friends in this situation…
        I reckon “most” “normal” people wouldn’t say anything rude or ignore people unnecessarily

      2. kit Post author

        True, true. But somewhat spoiled cliquish people who are barely out of their teens – some still in their teens technically – sometimes don’t know how to behave…
        and since I keep getting mistaken for someone almost a decade younger than I am, it makes it a little weird.
        The older adults at the other places I go for ballet are much nicer, for what it’s worth.

  2. nadiainherownworld

    I so relate to this. I think a lot of introverted and/or shy people are drawn to dance in general because of the non-verbal expression aspect. I have heard a lot of professionals say that they initially liked dance because they were shy kids who didn’t like to talk much, but were confident showing their personalities on stage.

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      That is true. It does feel easier to just dance than talk sometimes. Of course, since I’m not at that level of dancing yet, the best it gets – for now – is for me to put on some music and imagine how I would dance to it if/when(?) I could…

      Reply
  3. Sarah

    I can so relate to this. Even though I’ve recently stumbled upon the true definition of what an introvert is (read a few books, etc), and know that it’s perfectly normal to be this way, I still find it hard to accept that I’m not a bit weird for not wanting to be around lots of people and be out socialising every night of the week. I really like that at my ballet school, most people are quiet too and there’s not much chat before class starts.

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      Yeah, I think it’s because even though we know that it’s normal, dominant culture is geared towards extroverts and how much fun they’re having. Like everything from those pre-hire surveys (asking if you like being in a huge group of people, or if you love socializing, or you don’t like to be alone, right?), to group job interviews, to the commercials on tv always showing groups of extroverts laughing and having a grand old time. It’s like the only time introverts are portrayed is if there’s something wrong (like the stereotype of the “creepy” loner up to no good), or something. As more of us realize that there’s nothing wrong with being introverts I’m hoping that things will change for the better 🙂

      Reply
  4. Trippmadam

    I, too, am rather introverted, however I have less difficulties to make friends in dance school than elsewhere. At least my fellow students and I have one thing in common: we are adult dancers who struggle with dance steps and often find it difficult to find a balance between our passion for dance and everyday life (kids, work, study etc.)

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      That is true, about having dance in common and finding common ground from there – I think I too make friends easier in dance class than at other places.. It may just be a generation thing too. Since I don’t have kids yet, and work at home, sometimes it’s harder for me to relate to people my age, and I do tend to relate to youngish adults (provided they’re quiet and shy. like me).

      Reply
  5. meetatbarre

    I’m sort of odd, in that I’m outgoing but actually an introvert. So people are always surprised that I find social things draining or anxiety inducing, because I seem like an extrovert on the outside. So I guess a lot of people would say I have a lot of “friends” at my ballet studio because I do make an effort to be nice to everyone, and tend to fall into conversation easily. But sometimes I wonder if I’m too much, like too outgoing, too randomly friendly to people, too chatty, too intrusive, which makes me incredibly anxious and freak out that everyone actually hates me. But thank you for this post, because it makes me feel better about talking to everyone (even those who seem aloof), and I am going to make even more of an effort to be inclusive.

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      I like the outgoing introverts 🙂
      Since I’m not very outgoing, it usually takes someone else to get a conversation going. I think I may be able to tell the outgoing introverts from the “true” extroverts depending on how intimidated I feel or don’t feel, though that sounds weird. But most of the time I think my best conversations tend to be with outgoing introverts. They help me come out of my shell a little bit, like I needed to see an example of how an introvert can be more social, haha.
      You’re welcome. Keep up the friendliness 🙂

      Reply
  6. Su

    Hi

    I really like your article. Describes my daughter to a T. Sounds like you have ASD. Girls have it too and it manifests in different ways. You are a very good writer. Very eloquent and consientoous. Use these skills to your advantage. And dont worry there are millions of people like you!

    Reply
    1. kit Post author

      Thank you 🙂
      I’ve been very lucky recently to have met some people who are “like me” (whatever that may be, exactly; I’m not much given to labels, and I believe that labeling it doesn’t “fix” it [if it even needs to be fixed] so what’s the point) and that has definitely helped me feel less alone.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s