For those who know me, it’ll be no surprise to you when I say I’m an extrovert. I love being surrounded by people, and I thrive best in conversation and discussion.
Being around people makes me a better person. I’m more motivated, more productive, and altogether happier.
And even though I’m a pretty lighthearted person, there are some days that feel really heavy. Something hits me weird, I didn’t get enough sleep, I read too deeply into something a friend said, or I get frustrated at myself, and, suddenly, the world gets darker.
On these bad days, I often find that I draw away from other people. I will retreat to my room, curl up in bed and spend hours on Youtube or gaming. I don’t have the energy to cook or clean. I’ll just sit on the couch and rot.
I know that being around people is helpful to me. I know that on these bad days, I have friends that I can reach out to. I know that simply leaving my room and seeing another human being will help pull me out of my stupor.
But, despite knowing this, I still face these gross days by sequestering in my apartment, isolating myself from friends and family.
Why do I do this to myself? Why do I pull away from those who want to help me?
I’ve been a people-pleaser for as long as I can remember. And though I’ve mostly been able to move past that in my recent years, I occasionally wonder:
Am I a burden?
Do people actually like me for who I am, or just because I’m fun to be around?
I think this fear is what keeps me from reaching out in times of need. I don’t ever want to burden anyone or be an inconvenience.
I’m the middle child. I have an older sister and a younger brother. Growing up, it always seemed that they got more attention than me. Whether it be breaking a bone, getting in trouble at school, or struggling with mental health, it always felt that they were more important.
That isn’t their fault. My mom did the best she could, and, to be fair, they did need more than I did. But this led to me believing that I needed to take care of myself. I struggled in silence, knowing their problems were bigger than mine. I didn’t reach out. I would just sit in the dark and wait for it to go away.
And now that I’m older, I’m realizing that this is another main reason I tend to shy away from others when I encounter strong feelings. I’m used to handling them by myself. I can do it.
But just because I can do it on my own doesn’t mean I should.
There’s a comic I stumbled across a few weeks ago that says it better than I can:
I was not designed to struggle alone. I have been blessed with family, friends, and community to go to when I feel trapped.
And most importantly,
I am not a burden.
Those friends and family members who surround me are there because they want to be.
By not reaching out, I am only hurting myself.
And sure, I can get over it alone.
But I don’t have to, and that’s pretty heckin’ neat.
As we head into this new year, I want to encourage you to leave isolation and other negative habits in 2019. Though there can be bad times to vent, I encourage you to begin reaching out and be more vulnerable with your friends. It can often lead to a deeper friendship. After all, they are there because they want to be.
Do you find you also isolate yourself when you’re struggling?
How can you change your mindset to seek fellowship, instead?