Think you look pretty today? I bet your mirror begs to differ. This happens to be one of the many witty comments I say to my kind, supportive friends on a daily basis. Why? Being witty is one of the few ways I know to put an instant smile on someone's face, no matter the kind of day they have had. It was also my way of expressing my jovial nature. But I was not always like this.
I grew up as an only child in a secluded neighborhood for the majority of my childhood. My parents would often be too busy with work to engage with me, and this eventually transformed me into a very shy child.
In first grade, I was the most silent kid in my class. Opening my mouth and speaking up was a rarity. I had an irrational fear of speaking to strange people, so the easiest solution, from my point of view, was to stay quiet no matter who spoke to me. Do not get me wrong, I was a hyper, overeager child back then but only at home around my parents. At school, my tight-lipped alter ego took a hold of the reigns. Then I realized that when I did not speak, people failed to notice me.
I remember there was also another girl named Riley in my class who was my polar opposite; she laughed loudly, cracked jokes every minute and could make anyone like her within a few minutes with her natural charm. I observed the way she could break through stone-like expressions and create large smiles that reflected throughout the room. I then realized that I no longer wanted to maintain my facade and wanted to appear to be as good-natured as Riley.
My transformation from shy little girl to boisterous adolescent took a large amount of time. I had to crawl out of the shell that had been stuck to my back for all of elementary school. I forced myself to make small talk with others and even do what I thought to be the impossible: tell a joke. I remember that no one laughed at my first pathetic attempt, but I continued to pester my friends with my pitiful humor until I could see them laugh. Today, they groan in feigned annoyance, but I know they appreciate my light-hearted digs.
Eventually, things started to look my way. My peers started to get past my tough exterior and understand me well, and I eventually fell on their radar. In fifth grade, I was even voted "Best Journalist," an indication that I had finally distinguished myself in a way that I had not before.
Today, I am happy to say that I have achieved a healthy balance when it comes to my personality. I regularly spend quality times with my good friends, but other times I am content to just curl up with a book and a cup of tea. You could find me loud, laughing and yelling when I am excited or quietly listening to music during one of my tranquil moments. Instead of being just yin or just yang, I was both.
Every once in awhile, I can feel my old inhibitions, my old state of mind bubble back up to the surface and force me to say silent amid a sea of people, but pushing those feelings back has gotten easier with time. Now, I can confidently walk into the room, look each person in the eye and express how I feel when I want to.
My journey to becoming an ambivert was finally complete, and I'm better of for it.