Have you ever been asked why you are the way that you are? If so, it could be taken a number of ways.
You could take it as a compliment like, “Oh, this curious person is interested in me!” Or you may be unfazed by it as if it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to ask, maybe as natural as them asking where are you from or can you cook. Or you might take it as a unique conversation starter.
OR you could take offense to it like I do. Many a time I have been asked in subtle ways “why aren’t you like other black girls?” It has been a source of some of my anxiety and insecurities. Some of you might have a similar plight.
I’m an introvert, as is so often pointed out by practically everyone I meet. However, that’s not the only reason I’m so quiet, cool, calm, and collected on the surface. I also have social anxiety and depression. Paired with my introversion and the general misunderstandings between general introversion and shyness + introversion, there is room for assumptions.
For one, general introversion is just having the preference of spending more time alone or with a few people to recharge from the exhaustion of lots of socializing. One can be introverted and reserved without necessarily being quiet and shy in their interactions with others. They may still observe, but they also know how to balance conversation and observation without drawing to much attention to themselves. In other words, they can carry out their socialization fluidly and retreat to the comfort zone of wherever. They aren’t shy, per say.
With introversion + shyness, one can seem awkward and quiet in social interactions. Where others are all equally contributing to discussion and just as vocal as the rest of the group, shy introverts get really in their heads about saying the right or wrong thing. A million different scenarios could go through they’re heads (they are extra self-aware) about what ifs when they’re interacting with others. They care what others think because they are too careful about others feelings. Therefore, a lot goes unsaid for shy introverts. As a result, they face a lot of criticism for not saying much and not “conforming” to the norms of what is considered socially acceptable.
Which brings me to the first time someone straight up asked me, “Why are you the way that you are?”
We were standing in a hotel lobby and I was waiting for my room key like everyone else in our group. “What do you mean?” I asked him.
“You’re calm, very calm. That’s unusual for…a person.” He said. I barely just met him earlier that day.
“Why? I’m always like this. I don’t think I need to explain.”
So I gave him a brief summary of why I can do what I want and be who I want and it doesn’t matter nor concern him. Why ask me, the only black girl there and him the only black guy, something like that? He insisted it did matter before conveniently getting distracted and floating off to the next person.
I noticed he only asked me that, and it bothered me.
Moral of the story—be yourself. And if someone has a problem with you being yourself, you can smile and tell them what to do with themselves.
Why are you the way that you are? Because it’s better to be a unique individual than a conformist clone. Do you!