I left this title simple and clean, because it represents what I used to be so much. Let me save you the google search. Introvert – a shy reticent person. A person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things. This was me, and this is what shaped me into the man I am today. You might think that’s a bad thing, but you must hit rock bottom before you can climb to the top of the mountain – and I’m thankful for my journey. Everything I’ve endured, all my trials and tribulations, have molded me to the humble, stalwart father, manager, leader, blogger, gamer I am today – I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Have you ever felt nervous about standing up in front of a bunch of people, and speaking? Maybe in school, or at a social gathering? Public speaking make your brain hurt? Imagine feeling that way saying, “Hi” to someone new. Imagine being crippled from engaging in a group conversation, or walking up to someone to introduce yourself. This is being an introvert, and having social anxiety. And I conquered it.
In the beginning, I wasn’t programmed this way. I remember my childhood hazily as I’ve covered numerous times before. Sometime in the transition between middle school and high school I lost a lot of my friendship circle. You see, a somewhat little known fact about me, as I don’t share it with a lot of people – I was raised in a trailer park, and went to school that only had three Caucasian kids. It was hard, I struggled a lot with my pants being too tight (“Flooding”), looking nerdy, my own personal interests of reading, and playing video games. But don’t twist this against me, I had plenty of African-american friends. Two of my best friends were Keenan and Anthony – they kept me out of trouble, and helped me navigate the difficult space. I eventually found my ‘norm’, shared my love for Dragonball Z with everyone I could, drew a lot, and even copied DVDs for a lot of kids. Honestly, it was pretty awesome, my actual expertise in Dragonball Z made me a go-to guy for a lot of the kids at the school, and oftentimes it kind of elevated my popularity.
It was around this time I discovered my Mom was alive. She had gotten in touch with me somehow, I think it was through flowers, or some sort. I was taken aback – shocked if you will. My father had convinced me she was dead at an early age, and I never really questioned it, or spoke to him about mom. These times were really strange for me, there’s a whole other drama associated with the trailer park, an ex-girlfriend that almost got me beat up, a dramatic break-up, a separation from my father as he left me in the trailer with no power, heat, or water, to move across the street and live with his girlfriend. Mom was my savior, I’m not exactly sure of the details behind the scenes, but eventually my dad came up to me, and said, “Do you want to stay with your mom through the school year?” – at the time, I was pooping in a paper bag and throwing it in the big dumpster, using bottled water for cleaning, and a gas stove for heat – so I figured, “Yep!”
I moved in with my mom, transferred schools. I discovered I have a ton of siblings, and a whole other side of my life I had never imagined. The time with my mom was enlightening – I had lived in poverty for so much of my life, it was almost alarming to see this side of living. But it did not come without its’ faults, and I won’t go into too many details about it, because I was the oldest child, and all my other siblings were girls (except for one boy) – my mother truly did not know what to do with me, and coming into age as a teenage male, it was overwhelming for her, and looking back I was a bit uncompromising to the situation. It was around this time, I became an introvert. I started to recluse a bit, spend a lot of time in my room. There’s a lot more that happened, and some deeper themes that I won’t really discuss, but ultimately there were mistakes made both on my part, in my naive youth, and my mom’s part, and her inability to comprehend her sudden acquisition of a teenager (male at that).
I struggled at my new school to make friends. I had three or four – and to this day I still think very highly of them, but ultimately it was around this time I felt betrayed at home, school didn’t feel like my jam, and I was lost. I hated sports, I loved television, I loved Dragonball Z, I loved video games – but my mom didn’t really understand any of that. I won’t even touch religion, but there was friction there as well.
Long story short, I moved back with my dad, who had now moved in with someone else in another town. That meant another transfer, more new people, another.. struggle. This is where my self-esteem fell apart, I had no friends, and relied only on myself. I didn’t even know what an introvert was at that point, but I was living it. I would go to school with my head down, not speak to anyone, do my school work (barely) come home, and play video games. My dad drank, from the moment he got home, to the moment he passed out, until he got up hungover in the morning. I would go to this new school, come home, repeat. I never made a single friend – at all. It was around this time the friend my dad was living with saw my struggles, and decided to send me back to my old school, at the sacrifice of his own time to drive me there.
This is when, per my previous blog, I began to skip school, and ultimately passed (BARELY).
Tomorrow I will continue my journey into adulthood, and how I am now the Regional Lead Trainer for my company, doing presentations for corporate and other associates. I am also engaging with my associates and other people easily on a daily basis defying my social awkwardness, conquering my introversion.