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My Sister’s Shadow

My not exactly organized/ coherent thoughts about being an introvert in a extrovert family, namely next to my sister. And before I begin, let me say that my sister rocks and I love her because she’s seriously the best. She does put up with me, after all. =)

I think it’s safe to say that I’m not exactly a people person. Meeting new people is terrifying. Large groups freak me out. I get extremely socially anxious. I have steel walled defense mechanisms meant to keep people out.

For those who get to meet this not so charming personality, it’s no wonder that I don’t make the best first impression. Next to my bubbling, people person sister, I’m a humbug. Seriously. So, I hide in her shadow more often than not.

It’s comfortable but at the same time discomforting. It makes me feel unwelcome and unwanted. If she’s having a conversation and I’m just kind of there, it’s awkward. But I live with it, thinking that it’s just the way my life is meant to be.

And several weeks ago it left me in the car in tears, wondering what the heck was wrong with me. My sister saw the warning signs. I got fidgety, said something about a book, so she handed me the keys and said “I got you.” Should I mention that this isn’t the first time something akin to this has happened?

But I realized that this behavior, while particularly normal to me, generally only rears its head when I’m in certain situations. And while I’m certainly awkward all on my own, I get worse when I can hide behind my sister. It’s just easier to let her shine than try to get people to like me. Let them have the bubbly one, not the introvert with social anxiety. Besides, who would want me when they can have her?

The people who know me. Duh. *face palm myself multiple times.*

For those who have spent time with me, defenses down, I’m a sarcastic charmer. One of my friends at work calls me Stiles. Not after the singer, but after the character from the show Teen Wolf. He’s the sarcastic best friend that everyone needs. Plus, he has many other great qualities that I would love to emulate as both a friend and a human. I accept the name with a smile and a sense of pleasure.

Around my coworkers, I’m still awkward. I find it hard to put words together to form sentences sometimes. (Someone remind me how the heck I survived being an English major). My Doctor Who collection of items is accepted with a smile by most. I found that most of my habits that I always thought strange to just me aren’t as strange as they seem.

Carrying a book around all the time? Check. Not good at human interaction? Check. Awkwardness? Check. And these things that generally make me not good with people suddenly become somewhat normal in a place chock full of people similarly attributed.

The me that I don’t like found a home. And in case you’re wondering, I have indeed procured a job at a library. It is by no means my dream job, but at least it is a start in the right direction. And I love it. It’s just like everyone describes about their perfect job – coming home. Feeling complete and happy.

Now if only the me that comes out at work could come out when I’m with my sister and others. Very few people know that we’re separate from each other. Generally if you get one, you get the other. Mostly, the sister gets asked places and I get grabbed along, my sister hoping that I’ll have some sort of time.

I feel like a failure as a human as it feels like most people prefer my bubbly sister to my sarcastic personality. And I feel even worse as I realize that my personality is an “acquired taste” and who’d want to hang out with it? Even if most of the time I choose not to participate because being around others is taxing.

But someone reminded me recently, I’m still a good human. It’s not like my sister is good while I’m evil. We’re just two very different people. And I don’t let others know that I’m present. There’s no point when bubbly person over there is easier to want to be with than the sarcastic one. Or so it feels as I’ve been told by others over the years that I should tone myself down. Think before speaking. All that good jazz.

I know that I do this to myself. And it hurts. Even writing this, recognizing the signs and not being to fix it, hurts.

I don’t know how to implant myself into conversations. I may do it, but people just generally start to ignore me since I wasn’t originally included in the conversation. So I start to get anxious and not feel wanted. Which brings me back to the beginning of this post.

Life is hard. I make mine harder on myself by being my sister’s shadow. I don’t know how to be anything else. Then again, I’ve never really tried. The Stiles in me isn’t proud of that. But on trying I go.

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6 thoughts on “My Sister’s Shadow

  1. “There’s no point when bubbly person over there is easier to want to be with than the sarcastic one.” – oh, but this isn’t true. It may be true in some situations, but you’ll find the places where you fit in, where you thrive.

    1. Well, it seems like bubbly is better than sarcastic most of the time. I mean, I thrive at the library. Dest wouldn’t. I’ve met several nice people at bookstores. Dest was surprised when she met my college friends for the first time and learned that “hey, Charity made friends without me. These people even like her. What???” … even though I was scared that they would end up preferring her, which they never did.

      In the past several years I’ve come a long long way from where I was. But I have a long way to go. I will never be miss perky, bubbly, person. I don’t see it happening. But I can adapt to become what I need to be. *sigh*

      Sometimes being a human is hard.

      1. Yes, being a human is definitely hard. But you sell yourself too short. We all come in different types for a reason, and not everyone wants bubbly. If we judge ourselves too harshly based off what we aren’t we will NEVER like ourselves because no one can be everything- but judge yourself based off of what you truly, in your inner nature, wish to be. I doubt that’s bubbly.

    2. Yeah, no to the bubbly. I see the appeal to it. I do. But it’s also annoying. I know that the word needs bubbly people, I’m just not one of them. I want to be a happy that suits me. A happy that will appeal to others. Like I said, I do good where there’s books or nerdy people. Like the library or even a bookstore.

      But I love my sister, and want to spend time with her. And a lot of times, that requires being around people that aren’t like that. Which makes me awkward. And awkward me turns grumpy. Because I want to fit in and be liked. But since I don’t know how to do that… Bleh.

      Thank you for the encouraging words, even though I feel like I’m shooting them down or not listening by saying things like “But I have to be this way otherwise I’m not a proper human.” So, sorry. I’m not actively trying to be that way. ugh.

      1. Oh no you have no need to apologize. It sounds to me like maybe you need to find a way to reframe your experiences in such a form that they aren’t all negative towards yourself. You have a problem:
        1) you want to socialize with your sister but your personalities are opposites
        2) you feel like you have to socialize on her terms, which aren’t natural to you
        3) you feel like she fits in more easily in her spheres than you do.

        All of these things are true, and you have very little control over numbers 1 and 3- but number two you DO have control over. Instead of inviting yourself into her world, in which you feel awkward and out of control, sometimes you should invite HER into YOUR world. Get a coffee together and go to a bookstore, go out to the theater and see a yummy movie, go to the library or for a walk. Socialize on YOUR terms where YOU feel strong, at least part of the time. You have a very giving and sacrificial heart which is a beautiful thing, but sometimes you need to give yourself strength, too, instead of always trying to shunt yourself in where other people want you.

        And if my advice isn’t helpful, ignore me. 😉

      2. Oh, yeah. No. Dest and I do good if we have “sister time” with walks and movies. Sometimes. It’s just when she tries to get me with people to socialize that issues happen. But she thinks that she’s being a good sister by trying to get me to socialize and I can appreciate that even if it drives me nuts. Because I need a social life – just not hers.

        And she’s about as bad as I am in bookstores and the library as I am in new situations. I mean, she’ll go. But eventually she’ll get somewhat antsy, only more diplomatic about it. At least I can talk her into a book now and again!

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