I have always considered myself a hermit, lacking in the social arena, and odd. Struggling with depression beginning at the age of 10 made it worse, because I mentally beat myself up.
College was a culture shock. This naive, quiet, sarcastic, redhead, who was raised in a very strict religious home, had no rules, no boundaries, no expectations. Just . . . .freedom. Phillips University even had parties in remote locations that they would bus us to--no i.d.s, no rules. Just get on the bus, get off, get drunk, get back on the bus, go to your dorm and pass out. School sponsored!
Anyway, that was the start of my socialization. That's when I learned that I wasn't good at making friends, having fun, or even making eye contact. I'd never had much fun, never had many friends, and was scared of eye contact. The rest of my life has been a quest to be social. It's not been a road of consistency--I've frequently run back to my cave to hide from the world for long periods of time (inevitably to escape the messiness of friendships). My cave is safe, comfortable, and predictable. However, I have continued to venture out.
The older I get, and the more I try, the easier it gets. This weekend I reconnected with a friend I haven't seen in 17 years. We weren't THAT close of friends back then, but he was funny, and we had mutual friends, and we hung out. I recently found myself chatting with him online. And I caught myself being . . . . . social. I was joking around, I was not afraid of how I came across, I was just being . . . . .me. He came to church with me, and we went to lunch afterward. I was elated to have connected with him. After thinking about it all, I realized that some of my elation was that I found myself being comfortable with someone I barely knew, and I was able to be myself. For me, that's huge. This is not the first time I've caught myself being social recently, but it's the first time I've realized just how easily I express myself when I let my guard down.