Earlier this month, I celebrated my 5 year Coming Out-iversary. I remember that first day very clearly, because it took 3 years to get to that point. I was 24, and had never had a significant relationship. I’d never kissed a girl! I didn’t have any close gay friends. I’d watched pretty much all the lesbian TV shows and movies I could find – and that was challenging, before Netflix! The L Word was my world.
I really really wanted my life to start.
Finally, I gave myself an ultimatum: I couldn’t leave the country until I came out. Not surprisingly, that worked! I set up a meeting with a Peer Mentor through a university Pride Centre, and told my biggest secret for the first time ever.
Turns out, coming out is as weird as it is wonderful. I thought so much about the day when I would finally have the guts to say the words that I didn’t really think about what would happen next. I didn’t consider all the ways that I would change.
Moving to a new city is hard. It’s easy to pretend you’re brave and adventurous, but while you’re telling people how excited you are, it’s likely that your actual thoughts about the whole ordeal are an anxious mess. Leaving your life behind, the move itself, and the settling in period are stressful and emotionally draining. For many introverts, there’s an additional worry: how am I going to make good friends?
This problem isn’t exclusive to introverts. But in order to make meaningful friendships, you usually have to give yourself lots of opportunities to interact with people. Extroverts are generally able to create more of these opportunities.
The options for settling into a new city may seem pretty grim for an introvert: either give up your downtime to small talk with strangers, or be a happy recluse. Honestly, the second option is always the most tempting, but it turns out that having friends is awesome. So how do you get from Point A (reluctant acceptance that hermitdom is not the answer) to Point B (having consistent and meaningful social connections)? My suggestion is to fake extroversion. Just for a little while, I promise. Here are some tips for becoming a short-term, extroverted introvert: