This past weekend I took a trip solo to BlogHer in San Jose, California. Since January, I’ve been so excited for this trip! Not only would it allow me to introduce businesses to Dallas Moms Blog and bring back amazing products for moms, but it was a chance for me to be around other adults and feel refreshed.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve had any real time to myself. The last time I left my family was to BlogHer in Chicago where I roomed with two City Moms Blog Network friends. My son was barely 7 months old and I was weaning him from nursing, so while I was without kids on that trip, they were frequently on my mind each time I had to run back to the room to pump.
The last year has been rough; from a difficult newborn to a toddler who’s showing how “amazing” a threenager can be. It was time for a break from being Mommy and my business trip was that chance!
It was only 24 hours after arriving in San Jose that reality began to sink in. I was alone at a conference … with over 2,000 women. I had scheduled several smaller meetings, so that it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming, but with each small encounter my confidence began to dwindle further and further down.
You see…I’m an introvert.
While on the outside, I try to reflect the confidence of a strong small business owner with an engaging personality. But the truth is–I prefer to be alone.
It’s not that don’t like people. I’d actually give anything to have a close group of girlfriends! But when it comes to meeting new people or being the driving force in a conversation, I fail miserably. I don’t have an over-the-top personality. I stumble over my words. It takes serious effort for me to come up with engaging questions, and when you put me into a room of “pretty people” my self-esteem takes a nose-dive. I never feel good enough and it’s so much easier to just not try. It’s at home in my t-shirt and jeans with my two, sticky boys that I feel most comfortable.
So what I thought in my head would be a weekend of meeting new people and a relaxing getaway turned into a large reminder that no matter where I am (Dallas or San Jose), my struggles are still there. Which turned into a big realization why motherhood always feels so lonely for me.
One of the biggest ways women survive motherhood is by being with other moms. Other women to be their adult conversation, be a sounding board for struggles, and feel like they have value other than just being a caregiver.
But when you’re an introvert, you follow your natural instinct to revert back to your comfort space. Rather than leaving your family on a Thursday night to go meet new women in your neighborhood, you stay in the safety of your home where you know you’re loved. You don’t have “try” to be one of the pretty people. What you wear won’t be judged (even if it’s not, you feel like it is!). You won’t accidentally say something that put your foot in your mouth. Your family–your kids–they help you feel confident in who you are, and putting yourself out there to be yourself around people you don’t know …well, it’s darn right scary!
But as I’m slowly coming to learn, it’s not healthy.
Our goal as parents is to send our children out into the world to become productive members of society. They won’t live with us forever. Everyone tells me time flies by like a snap of a finger, and so we need to start planning now for a life without children.
It’s important that we learn to build relationships away from our husband and children. It’s important to have other female companions to talk to; whether it’s to develop those long-term friendships or just practice for returning to the work force. If introverts always play it safe by focusing solely on the family, when the time comes to return to society, you’ll have 18 years of routines and habits to fight and you might find yourself feeling more alone than ever before.
As I fought the introvert urge to curl up in my hotel room and work on my computer, feeling internally full by editing the amazing content for Dallas Moms Blog readers, I remembered that situations like this are important opportunities for practice. This is a great place to break through my barriers and practice meeting new people, coming up with conversation with women who don’t know me, and occasionally force myself to talk about myself (gulp!) That way when I come home and get my next Evite to our neighborhood Mom’s Night Out, I’ll feel that much more confident when I try to build those connections that actually mean something for my future.
So the next time you’re at an event and you see a mom sitting alone at the end of the table (possibly giving the impression that she’s “too cool for school”), it’s probably because she’s one of us introverts, struggling to feel like she belongs. Give her a little nudge by introducing yourself and helping guide the conversation — I promise once you help introverts break through those fears, these are the women who will end up being your biggest cheerleaders and true longtime friends.
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