Horse farms always provided a soothing environment. I remember that as a child, nothing made me happier than to see horses romping in their pastures, and inhaling the scents of earth and hay. The comfort was so contagious, that it spread and opened doors for my outgoing and social self to come out. I talked to everybody in the barn, whether they were a riding student or staff member. I laughed a lot, was an active participant in the activities, and enjoyed being social because the environment was comfortable.
I lost sight of that memory from my teen years through my early twenties. During that time, I convinced myself that I was not a social person. From my perspective, socializing meant making plans with someone every weekend. That was hard for me, because I was and still have an introverted nature, that is energized by solitude and being surrounded by animals. Yet there was a part of me that had a chip on my shoulder. I remember others wishing that I was more outgoing, or lectured me about making plans. Therefore if there is any rebellion that I ever committed, it was not making plans when someone told me to. I got together when all of my friends, including myself were eager to socialize. Those moments mostly took place during my mid high school and college years. I have to say though, those were wonderful times.
Recently, I finally realized that my definition of socialization was not exactly accurate. I am not saying that making plans is not part of it, it is, but being social also means actively participating in the community, and that is something that I have done for the past two years. For instance, I co-host a radio show on Mondays, go to a gym two to three days a week, participate in a writer’s group, attend worship services every Wednesday night, as well as blog and assist in planning events for the non profit that I work part time for. All of these environments require me to be social, but it is not intimidating, because like the horse barns there is comfort in my surroundings and I open up more because of the happiness and joy that I feel.
I admit that I still get defensive when I am pushed to make plans. Nothing irritates me more when I hear, “you should get out more,” “you should socialize with other people,” and all of those comments. I often retort by saying, “I’m not a social person,” “I’m not interested”, or “I don’t want to socialize.” However I am truly reacting out of frustration, because it makes me uncomfortable to be pressured. More times than not the person is well meaning, therefore I often come across as standoffish and ornery in my statements. Yet I will keep working on this challenge, because I am learning that at the end of the day, it is my attitude and reaction that has the most significant impact on me. Yet at the same time, being social in comfortable environments is an aspect of my identity, and to rediscover that is a blessing.
I hope that all of you can rediscover aspects of your identity. There will be pressures in your life that often make us lose track or question who we are, but none of us are made the same. There are blessings that come with our identities, it is just a matter of having experiences that will unlock them. Thank you for reading and may you find blessings in all that you do!