I am 100% an introvert, but a functional one. I’m not the one who hides in a corner and longingly stares at people, hoping they come talk to me. I’m able to find a small group of people to talk to and carry on a normal conversation. Feeling uncomfortable is typical for me, but I can easily mask it. Surprisingly, I’m also a really good public speaker (not to toot my own horn, but toot toot). However, I also check the clock frequently to see how long until I can dismiss myself at a socially acceptable time. I tend to do a lot of listening and head nodding.
My friends are usually really great with this. They know that I’m not going to be the wild one dancing on a bar. They make introductions for me without even thinking about it. They’re cool with me not talking much or leaving when I’m drained. I have never felt like a burden to them, and they never let on that I am.
The hardest part for me as an introvert, though, is the one person at an event that I know doesn’t like me.
I met this girl at a New Year’s Eve house party a few years back. I only knew 2 people there, but I did my best to mingle and have a good time (even though I spent some more time chilling with the dog on the floor). When my friend introduced me to this girl, I could feel her immediately assessing me. She gave me the up down glance, stopping at each article of clothing a little too long. Darn it Alice, why did you show up to a New Year’s Eve party in sneakers??
With a smug expression, she said, “Hi Alice. So what do you do?”
“I’m a teacher. What do you do?” I asked.
“I’m in bio-mechanical engineering,” she said enthusiastically A little too enthusiastically. “But wow, just a teacher? That takes a lot to work so hard for so little money. Do you do anything else?”
“Well, no one goes into teaching for the money!” I tried to joke. “But no, I don’t really worry about money. I make enough to afford my lifestyle and that’s all I need.”
“Well, I’m glad your satisfied,” she said as she walked away to get a drink.
Ouch. Kind of rude. My friends that were there didn’t say anything in her defense or mine. No, “Sorry about her, she can be kind of a snob.” or “Al is a really good teacher, lay off!” They just stood there and watched all of this unfold.
As the night went on, the snide comments kept coming. “You must be really confident in yourself to go to a party in a hoodie.” “Your hair is so interesting. Do you brush it?” “Your eyes are really big, Do you have thyroid problems?” “What happened to your nose that made it so crooked?” “So like, you teach the r******* kids, right?”
My “friends” did nothing.
She left me alone for awhile, but then loudly asked a whole bunch of people to play beer pong with her. I’m not much for party games, so I tried to make myself small. She said, “Alice! How about you come and play with me! I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it!” I tried to excuse myself, jokingly saying I’d embarrass myself and she’d be better off finding a better partner. After insistence from her and everyone else, I begrudgingly played.
It was a disaster.
After losing the game, she “slipped” and spilled beer on me. She then loudly shouted, “Maybe if you didn’t suck so bad, I wouldn’t be drunk from trying to save our team. You should just leave.”
So I left. No one said goodbye.
A few days later, my friends called me up and asked why I left so early. I explained that their new friend was really rude and made me really uncomfortable, but they automatically threw in their opinion to save her. “She’s just not good with new people, you’ll get used to her.” “That’s just the way she is, you have to have tough skin to deal with her.” “You can’t let her get to you like that, she’ll torture you now.” Torture? Get tough skin? Get used to her? I wanted nothing to do with this woman ever again, let alone spend time trying to get used to her. I explained to my friends that if she was going to be with us, I didn’t really want to be there anymore.
Years have passed and this girl still keeps popping up. I had a party at my house and one of my friends invited her over. My friends and I would go out to eat and she would get invited without my knowledge. Each time I see her, it’s the same thing. She picks and pokes at all of my insecurities, and my friends do nothing. I’ve tried telling her she’s being rude, but she laughs in my face. I stopped hanging out with my friends. It has really sucked to lose them, but I learned that I shouldn’t have to feel like an outsider among friends.
If your friends invite people who make you feel uncomfortable, they are not your friends. If they don’t come to your defense when another friend is picking on you, they are not your friend. If they take someone’s side over yours when that person is clearly in the wrong, they are not your friends. Cut them out of your life, move on. There are other people out there who don’t suck. You shouldn’t have to tolerate rude people for the sake of your friends’ feelings.