When it was time to say the final goodbye, I started to tear up. Not because I was afraid of what’s to come or worried about having made the right decision. More because the past year has helped me get to know an entirely new side of myself. One that is loud and bubbly. That turns the tables, stands her ground and speaks up for herself. One that embraces others and talks in front of people, making them laugh and listen. That’s not me – how could it be. I used to always refer to myself as a massive introvert, someone who craves solitude and hates being the center of attention in a room full of people.
The beginning: hiding in my shell
When I first moved to Graz I had hidden in a web of comfortable relationships, jobs, and habits. I moved in with my now-ex-boyfriend and hardly ever went out. At university, I talked to a few but made only little friends, as I was shy and always wanted to go home as soon as possible. I stayed in a relationship that didn’t make me feel good, as a means of not having to face the unknown. I liked the city and my studies but I constantly wanted to flee. First back home and later to new places. I continued working the same weekend job I did back home in Carinthia instead of venturing out to explore new challenges and stayed home reading a book on the couch, rather than go to University gatherings on my own.
I told myself I didn’t need to try to change something because I was perfectly fine the way things were.
In reality, I was overwhelmed with everything changing at once.
The change: stepping out of my comfort zone
When the relationship ended, I basically did a 180 and tried to find out who I was in the midst of chaos. I finished my studies and made a few new friends, still not really going beyond the uncomfortable. I stuck to the things I knew, the places I had already visited and hid in my tiny apartment a lot. I watched a lot of Netflix and read many books, escaping to fictional worlds as to not have to deal with the one I live in. I tried to get out more, do more, see more. But all within the comforts of the things I knew.
Suddenly, I fell in love, finished my studies, applied for a full-time job, let new people into my life and somehow found myself along the way.
I booked a solo-trip to Budapest but didn’t really enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. It helped me tremendously with getting to know myself better, though.
Facing the challenge
Then came the big change. A full-time job. Before I had only worked part-time or on the weekends and was always really distant when it came to my co-workers, telling myself I was only there for a couple of hours a week and needn’t find friends there anyway. I instantly knew this would have to be different. I was at the office from 8-5 every weekday and had to get along with the other people or else I’d be lonely and miserable.
I jumped into the deep end and found myself in an environment that was both challenging but also incredibly rewarding. For the first time in my life, people genuinely appreciated me for who I was and I was able to acknowledge and appreciate that. At first, I was still shy and kept to myself. I was quiet and listened, rather than talked. But slowly I started to warm up with the people who worked there and the tasks that were given to me. And with that, I started to break out of my shell, too.
What now… Am I still an introvert?
When I now enter a room, I do not want to disappear anymore. I am not my most comfortable standing in front of a crowd, telling a story, but I don’t mind it as much anymore. When I meet people I have never seen before, I embrace them and actually talk. I still find social gatherings incredibly draining and need about a day of silence after a few hours amongst the crowds. But I find myself wanting to get out more and more.
And I think times have changed and so have I. I would still say I’m leaning more towards being an introvert, but I am slowly changing, finding a balance between the two. And it is improving my life in so many ways.
OUTFIT DETAILS Shoes: FRAICHE via Shoe4You**, Jeans via Dorothy Perkins (similar)*, ZARA Shirt (similar here)*, Blazer from H&M*, Bag via GUESS, Earrings via MANGO*
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