I wrote the below post on the plane coming back from the fitness retreat. I felt a bit down and needed to vent my feelings. Sorry if it sounds pathetic and self-involved but I thought it might speak to others who’ve felt the same way in similar social environments…
Though I had an absolutely fantastic time at the fitness retreat, pushing myself in crazy ways and doing things I never thought I’d do, there were elements of the week that really had an effect on me, and not in an entirely good way.
I went there with the intention to learn more about strength and nutrition, and to hopefully get an idea of how to balance my love of running with my love of strength training. I’d say I definitely achieved this. I came away feeling strong and proud of my body’s physical ability.
What I didn’t expect was feeling like my personality wasn’t good enough. In a group of very bubbly and outgoing individuals I tend to step back and let the big personalities take centre stage. I’m happy with that. I’m not shy per se, I’m just more introverted and not as confident with people I don’t really know.
Normally that’s fine. But it’s really hard when you’re spending six days straight with these bubbly, loud strangers who you normally wouldn’t socialise with. Not because they’re horrible or nasty, but just because they’re not you’re kind of people. Everyone is different, right? Everyone has their social circle they feel comfortable in.
The social butterfly girls clicked and gossiped. Their lives so different to mine; the cosmopolitan lifestyle of London living or the confidence that comes with being a good looking blonde that the boys flock around meant I didn’t quite fit. I couldn’t relate to their drinking stories, their dating habits and interests. And I would often let them do the talking while I sat quietly. And the problem for me was that I let this get under my skin when I found myself less included.
I’m not the type of person who can blend in to any social situation. I can’t force myself to be loud and “out there”. I can’t invent stories to make myself relatable or change my personality. So I faded away into the background. I felt like I didn’t become a significant member of the group. If I wasn’t there it wouldn’t have mattered I’m sure.
When we went on the night out I’m embarrassed to say I could have cried. I know this sounds so very dramatic but I’ve never felt so uncomfortable with my own personality before. I’m not going to neck back drinks to “come out of my shell”. And when someone keeps saying to you to loosen up, have some fun, “come on Anna you’re so quiet”, you can’t help but think something is wrong with you. And this only pushed me further into the shell that I never realised I had in the first place. I would have left early but I was dependent on the others with how to get back to the gym complex.
Funnily enough I felt far more at ease with the boys (or at least some of them, others were less forgiving of my personality – see above comments). I didn’t feel as left out or judged. When the girls decided to go off and do a “Victoria Secret workout” one morning, I went down to the strength area of the obstacle course with a bunch of the boys and had a thoroughly good time getting sweaty and dirty lifting heavy logs and tires about. We had a laugh and it felt brilliant to not feel as self-conscious.
I suppose what shocked me most was how I let these feelings bother me: feeling not good enough, insignificant and unimportant. I thought I was a fairly confident person but I suddenly felt stripped down to someone I didn’t recognise and looking back seems so silly now.
I know I’m not an awful person that no one wants to be friends with. Of course I know this. I have a bloody fantastic group of friends and with them I can say and do anything and they GET me.
In a place where I felt so strong in my body and confident with my body image I never imagined I’d feel so insecure about my personality and who I actually was. Without dwelling too much on this point, it obviously it doesn’t help being single and going through a divorce. You can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with you.
Anyway, now I’m back and in the “fold” of my friends and family I know how ridiculous it was to let it bother me. They weren’t “my people”. Not everyone is of course. I can’t change who I am and I’m just glad I have a good bunch of people who accept that.
Have you ever felt like this?
Do you think you have a high or low self-esteem? I think my self-esteem has taken a bit of a beating recently.
Would you say you’re an introvert of extrovert?