Hey little one, I want you to know I see you.
I see you hide behind me when the stranger at the store comments on your pretty hair. I see your wheels turning when a relative talks to you. I know you get nervous when your teacher calls on you. I know you don’t like being the center of attention.
I want you to know that’s ok. I see you. And I know you see me.
You see, I’ve never met a stranger. You see me smile at other parents or chat with that random person at the grocery store. You see that my phone has a lot of text messages. You see that I spend a lot of time with friends.
I want you to know it’s ok that we are different.
The great part about being a member of a community, little one, is that we are exposed to all kinds of people. If we are lucky, we get to meet people who aren’t like us. We get to talk to others with a completely different perspective. We dress differently. We eat different foods. We live different lifestyles. That is cool. It’s how we grow. It’s how we come to empathize with our fellow humans, make new friends, and expand how we understand the world.
But I never want you to doubt yourself because you are not like me, nor do I ever want you to see different as bad. There’s room in this world for people like you and people like me… and everyone else. So as you navigate this world as an introvert, my dear daughter, here are a few things I hope you will remember.
Find Your Tribe
You will find that people who are naturally shy gravitate toward people who are not. You’ll find a friend who can speak up when you can’t or don’t want to. You’ll find a friend who understands that some social settings make you itchy. You’ll find a friend who gets that you want to be around them, but you don’t want to talk. Maybe you want to listen, or maybe you just want silence. You’ll find a core group of friends who each bring something to the table.
Search for your tribe, and once it’s formed, honor your tribe. Give as much as you get. Make spending time with your tribe a priority. Don’t allow toxicity to touch your tribe. Protect it fiercely.
Find Your Boundaries
I know you think I talk to everyone, but believe it or not I “read the room.” If my idle chatter may cause another discomfort, then I try to avoid making things awkward for them. But sometimes I read people wrong. And sometimes people don’t read others at all. We are all in this together, and some of us are just a bad encounter away from giving up. So if someone is invading your space, or talking incessantly, or just too much for you, it’s ok to excuse yourself. You are not required to take part in casual conversation.
Similarly, if someone is invading your physical space, it is one-hundred percent OK to tell them to back off. I trust your gut, and you can too. Believe it or not, shy one, this rule goes for all of us. You are allowed to set personal boundaries and everyone, even that well-meaning relative who always plays with your hair, has to respect them.
Find Your Voice
I know it’s hard, but sometimes you have to speak up. Part of my role in our family is to communicate, so you and your Daddy don’t have to. I’m the vocal one at parties, with salespeople, or at school for a reason. But the quiet people of the world can get picked on and taken advantage of, and I don’t want that for you. So when something really matters to you, learn to use your voice. And when you see something unjust, even if it happens to someone else, speak up. I know it’s easier to hide behind others, but you are so much more than shy. That is just one facet of your amazing personality, so let the world see more.
I’m On Your Team
When I can, I will be your voice. When I can’t, I will stand beside or behind as you find your own. It’s OK that you aren’t comfortable around many people, even when I am. I’m on your team, kid. I know you are still young enough to want to emulate Mommy, and I love you so much for that. But my dear, beautiful child, our differences unite us just as much as our similarities. I don’t want or need you to be a mini-me. My truest hope for you, for today and always, is that you are the best version of you. As you figure out who you are, I will support you. And, no matter who you become, I love you.