So, I had to go to an all day staff training at one of my jobs yesterday, and while something caught my attention: a lot of the adults acted exactly like me, or someone around my age. It made me think of how social norms and the views of "being an adult" has changed.
I used to describe myself as an extroverted-introvert or an introverted-extrovert before I knew there was a specific term for it: ambivert. Being at this staff training from 8:30am - 5:00pm made me really notice how people interact with each other. I can easily assume that I was the younger person at the event, with only one person being the exception. Maybe. MAYBE. When I had arrived at the event I couldn't find anyone I knew from work so I decided to sit at a random table with no one I knew. I introduced myself, but then I did the usual: I became quiet, reserved, and somewhat timid. Mainly because I didn't know anyone at the table.
Gradually as more people entered the large room and sat at the table I was sitting, I noticed that everyone knew each other. Then it hit me: this is exactly what teenagers and young adults do in social situations where they don't know anyone except for one or two people. They stick where they're comfortable. So, while everyone else at the table was seated with someone they knew, I was all alone. Of course, they welcomed me into their conversations and I got to know some new people but I instantly felt left out. However, this gradually changed through out the day when our similarities came to light.
When put in a situation where I don't really know anyone and I'm not too sure on how to start a conversation, I either do something on my phone or write in my journal. During the breaks through out the day, everyone at the table would be on their phone checking email (or text messages) or answering phone calls. While participating in one activity during the day, everyone at the table had to agree on an answer to a question and if someone didn't agree we weren't allowed to write it down. For example, everyone agreed that their favorite candy was Hershey's Chocolate. However, it took us a while to agree on favorite sports team because we were somewhat divided with Eagles and the Redskins. So, when it came to favorite vacation spot, someone jokingly answer "My House" and we all agreed before writing down the Beach.
I recently had a conversation with my sisters about how hard it is to meet people both in a dating and a general social aspect. In some ways, I could be described as a homebody and in some ways I wold disagree with that. Lately, though, I have been. Working 10 hours a day roughly 5 out of the 7 days of the week I do find myself yearning to go home when I'm done with the day and wanting to stay home and do nothing but relax. Aside form tending to my apartment or going grocery shopping, on my full days off I do nothing except stay in my apartment. Why? Because for 5 out 7 days where I worked 10 hours a day, I was around people. This is the ambivert in me, but I can't be around people all the time. I need to have my batteries recharged. I need alone time, which is why on my day off I do nothing and I love it. Rushing around from one job to the next for the previous 5 days wears me out quickly especially with having to work beginning from as early as 7am and no getting home until 10pm or later.
Of course, this doesn't mean if a friend or a co-worker calls me up on my day off and asks me to hang out or to do something, I'll decline. I generally accept as long as I can have a portion of the day to myself. I think it's also because I choose to see people instead of working around. It's kind of hard to explain and I don't want to take up all of my time on this post to go into that.
To go back a few paragraphs, the woman that made a comment about home being their favorite vacation spot had to be in her late 30s or early 40s, so not too much older than me. It was sitting and talking with these women of various ages that made me realize that adults now are different or changing than the adults I'm used to seeing like my parents.
When I view my parents as adults, I see people who are always on the go even on the weekends when it's their days off. I see people who can run on very few hours of sleep, who work hard at their jobs, who can easily converse with other people, who know how to interact in life. And then, there's my generation where we have so much technology we just have to send a text message to talk to people. This, however, isn't a bad thing. I know a lot of people who get anxious and nervous at the idea of talking to someone face to face or even over the phone. I know people who have to rehearse what they're going to say so as they don't "say something stupid or dumb". Technology makes things easier for those who are introverted or have social anxieties and this doesn't necessarily mean that they're homebodies or anti-social and it shouldn't be viewed negatively.
Adults don't understand how hard it is to truly meet people and makes friends. Think about it, when they were growing up, technology was slowly changing and it wasn't as prominent as it is now so they're used to interacting more with people. Growing up, I had built-in friends with my sisters and my classmates. Then, when we all graduated from high school i kept in touch with a few, and held onto them while attending college. In college, i did make a few friends through some classes and shared interest. After graduating from college you're thrown into a world where all of your friends are all of a sudden are busy at different times, you move to a new city, and then you're all alone. Sure, sometimes you'll skype, text or talk on Facebook but it could be months to years because you see your friends face to face.
You don't know anyone or anything in the new city you moved to. Those who are extroverted can easily strike up some new acquaintances or friends because they feed off of people's energy. Those who are introverted or ambivert may take more time or turn to befriending people online through shared interests. Online friends are becoming a normal thing and that's not bad. Not everyone on the internet is lying or stalking you. Having a friend online gives you someone else to connect with and to gain new insight or an opinion. Plus, for some people, it makes it easier to talk to them because they don't have to do it face to face, they just talk through a computer screen.
During the all day meeting, when speakers would ask for a comment or ask a question and no one would respond or raise their hands, they would warn about calling on someone or volunteering someone to give an answer. This really needs to change, especially for introverts. Some people may not feel comfortable speaking in public for a variety of reasons and then you calling on them and in a way 'forcing' them to answer doesn't help anyone except yourself wanting an answer. Of course, this varies in each setting ie school and other places; however, its like your pulling someone out of their comfort zone against their own free will. Everyone should move out of their own comfort zone when they choose to.
The bottom line is, everyone adults differently, especially with the gap between the adults in my parents generation and my generation. Okay, so more like my grandparents generation and my generation. The world is drastically changing and advancing, as well as how people interact with each other. The term homebody shouldn't be viewed negatively, and in the coming years it probably won't be. Everyone does things differently, and I think we should all just accept that.
"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." - Walt Whitman