I am an introvert. I am also shy and awkward. I work really hard to hide these facts and try to appear cool and calm and collected when socializing. I’ve been told I’m rather successful at this, but I still feel like an awkward dweeb most of the time.
The thing is, I actually enjoy meeting people and learning about people and all that jazz, but talking and socializing just doesn’t come easy to me. I find chatting and small talk actually very exhausting. It literally tires me out.
When walking the Erie Canal I was aware of my shy introvert nature, and I consciously made the effort to talk to strangers and let them know what I was about and where I was heading. I walked up to people to ask if there was a good camp spot nearby, or if they knew of a grocery store in walking distance, etc. It was difficult each and every time, but I did it. And it totally paid off.
Part of the problem with talking, other than the fact that I honestly don’t know or have anything to say a lot of the time, is that I’m irrationally terrified people are going to randomly mock, insult, or otherwise assault me. I’m afraid I’m bothering them and being annoying. And this, I was proven time and again along the way, is just as irrational as I thought.
Nearly everyone I met was warm and kind and helpful. People opened their houses, their cars, their businesses to me – a total stranger! They made me feel welcome all along the way, and all I had to do was strike up a conversation.
Partly, my idea for these adventures started because I was sick of all the horrible news on the tv and in the papers. The media would have me believe that I live in a country full of self-centered murdering evil people. And I got sick of it. I said enough and went out there to prove to myself what I believed to be true – that the world is full of kind and generous people.
New York proved me right, and now I’m hoping that the rest of the country is just as kind and generous as the people along the Erie Canal.
So if you meet me along the way, and I’m not too talkative or seem standoffish, don’t worry. I’m actually really excited and interested in what your saying, that’s just me being my shy introverted awkward self.