Confessions of an Introverted Dad (and Stop Calling Me Shy)
This post is a bit of a confessional on a topic that I think many of us struggle with but few of us actually talk about.
I am an introvert. There, I said it.
Is being an introvert bad? Because it sure feels like it sometimes. I'm not sure why, though. I'm still a good person, a good employee and at least a decent dad. But the moment you say you like to spend time alone sometimes, people start to label you. I am not shy; but I am an introverted dad, and I'm okay with that.
Introversion is both a blessing and a curse.
I really try to keep Dadtography.com as positive as possible. But this is something I really struggle with, so I hope you're okay with a post that's a little different than previous ones on here. You may or may not know this, but I am actually an introverted dad.
If you've met me in person, that may come as a surprise to you because I'm not shy - I'm introverted. Yes, there's a difference.
Well, being an introvert and a blogger makes for a bit of an interesting combination. I started my first blog back in 2007. Back then I blogged as "Memoirs of a Single Dad", mostly because I wanted a place to write down my thoughts. I didn't ever go too over the top, but I got pretty honest about how I was feeling about some pretty sensitive topics, like dating, co-parenting and relationships in general. My blog was my voice; it felt like (and was, for the most part) my safe place.
This topic has been weighing on me for quite a while, though. And it was recently stirred up for a couple of reasons. First, I want to share a bit about how I gathered up the courage to post about this topic.
Facebook is a place for dads to share, commiserate & learn.
So there's this super secret (maybe not) Facebook group for daddy bloggers, of which I'm a member. I mostly just lurk, reading other (more extroverted, apparently) dad's posts as they interact about all sorts of things - from parenting, to relationships to travel (like going to Dad 2.0).
What happens in this group, stays in this group and that's really what I like about it.
Another dad in the group, Lorne, posts every once in a while. I even sent him a copy of my Memoirs of a Dating Dad book for an event he was helping to organize. I don't really "know" Lorne, but I kinda feel like I do.
I kinda feel like Lorne and I would be friends, IRL. You know. If we met. Except, of course, he lives in New York City and I live a few hundred miles away in Orlando, Florida.
Lorne is very open about his struggles with depression and about being a primary care-giver in his household. I see some of myself in Lorne, and I get the feeling he may be an introverted daddy blogger like me.
What does it mean to be an introvert?
As dads, and as men I think many of us feel like we should always be strong - we can't show weakness. Well, I have weaknesses, too. I can't be strong all the time. One of my weaknesses is that I'm a pretty introverted person.
Now, don't mis-interpret what I'm saying here. I'm not shy, per se. I actually love talking to people, just not to everyone (as in, strangers). I can talk for hours about topics I'm passionate about (pick any of the dozens I write about on here, for example). I also think I'm a pretty articulate person and I make it a point to be a good listener, too.
My wife? Yeah, she's pretty much the exact opposite and can talk to anyone about absolutely nothing and look super graceful doing it, too! She has hundreds of friends (real friends, I mean. Not just Facebook friends) that she talks to all the time. You should see her itinerary map when she makes her yearly trip back to visit friends and family in Ohio. It makes me dizzy.
I'm not like my wife, though. I'm articulate and funny and compassionate and a good listener, but I don't have hundreds of friends. I have, like...three. Maybe. If you count my dog, Brutus and my boys I have six.
I have six close friends (if you count my sons and dog).
Sometimes I'm okay with this fact and sometimes I'm not. I've never had a ton of friends - I'm just not wired that way. But when you're younger, I think it's much easier to meet new friends than it is as you get older. I go to my job (where I have a few friends) and I come home, and that's about the extent of 80% of my life.
If you're sitting there, thinking to yourself, "Just go meet some new friends!", I have to say it's not that simple. I know a lot of people - as do most of us. It's just so much more difficult for me to make that leap from acquaintances to friends, for some reason.
I think I first struggle with the possibility of being rejected. I'm not sure why - I don't really consider myself to be an insecure person. But the idea that I'd open up and reach out to someone and they'd say, "thanks, but no thanks" honestly scares the crap out of me.
I don't know why. I know people don't typically behave like that and my fears are likely irrational.
I admit it. I struggle with being an introvert.
I think I also struggle with the idea of losing friends. My friends are very dear to me; I probably don't say that enough to them. Loss is something that I really am petrified by, to be honest. I think about my best friends from high school almost every day, but I rarely take the time to reach out and say that.
Why is that? Why don't I just call them? I honestly hate talking on the phone, but there are other methods of communication, right? I think I try to keep most people at arms length, largely because of my own inner fears.
Are you an introverted dad or mom, too?
If you are - that's okay! There's nothing wrong with you, either and I'd be willing to bet you and I would make fast friends. I know I'm not alone, but I still feel like I am. I know that people care about me and consider me their friend, but I sometimes forget about that. I know that friendships are two-way streets, I just sometimes don't know how to reach out to them in the right ways to let them know how much my friends really do mean to me.
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