There is a difference between being an introvert and being shy. I have the great joy of being both, although I fake both extroversion and a lack of shyness on a regular basis.
For the last week, in fact, I've been "on" more than off. At 5 a.m. last Tuesday, I was thanking the TSA agent who waved me through the body scanner and earning a smile by wishing him a good day. By 8 a.m., I was nearly halfway to Chicago and gaining a laugh from the flight attendant when I complimented the elaborate twists worked into her long, black hair and wrapped into a coronet around her head. Within hours, it was the cabbie at the airport and the thoughtful car rental agent in the middle of Albuquerque.
I've had the great joy this last week of two delicious dinners with friends whom I can't help but adore, simply because they are unabashedly themselves. Forthright, opinionated, generous, welcoming, and ever so fun. I've spent a day at the zoo with another friend, her wonderfully strong granddaughter, and her smart, kind, super-fun great-grandson. I've visited with a third friend whose resilience is inspiring. And I've started getting to know an acquaintance who has met my California cousins.
I spent a couple of days and a few extra hours working. I chatted with expert artisans and watched skilled dancers. Yesterday, I thought perhaps I'd take myself to one of the pueblos for an arts and crafts show, because, why not check out something new?
But I didn't. Instead, I found myself on the couch with a slice of cold pizza yesterday morning, staring at the map and contemplating the prospect of wandering up the road on my own. I already have two potentially "on my own" days planned this week. The notion of one more seemed suddenly and completely overwhelming. My faux extroversion plummeted. At the same time, the notion of meeting an acquaintance for a snack and bevvie yesterday evening sent my shyness spiraling upward.
Thanks goodness for good naps, good work, and good movies, which recharged my extroversion battery. Thank goodness also for good conversation with a new friend, which brought my shyness back down to a manageable level.
There is, I think, something to be said for having a shy day now and again. It's a reminder of what can trap a person in the most familiar mindset, or place, or perception. It's also a reminder of why it's so important to challenge all of those things. Even if you might not know exactly where to start. Even if you have to take baby steps to break the mood ... like today, when I'm taking the scenic route to Santa Fe. I'm giving myself permission to skip shops and just hit museums, if I want to do that. Or to decide when I hit the bottom of the mountain whether I want to chance the vertigo and panic attack that a solo drive drive 5,000 feet up to the summit may trigger. I only have to do what I want to do. And that's okay.