Walking down the corridor that leads to my classroom, I passed several of my new classmates. Smiling vaguely and waving Hi I reached and found ‘my’ seat unoccupied in the second to last row of the room. Finding my teammate M already there, I heaved a sigh of relief. She was one person I did not feel compelled to make conversation with. She had her laptop popped open and seemed to be working intently on something. Relaxing in my chair, I looked around. A smattering of people in various stages of conversation or study greeted me. I looked beyond M to my other teammate S who was carrying on a conversation seemingly by himself till I noticed the Bluetooth phone blinking by his ear.
Wondering if I should follow suit and open my laptop I found the chair next to me occupied by another teammate C. We exchanged greetings and stopped awkwardly. He went on to get settled and seemed relieved when someone else he knew sat next to him. They went on to have a conversation about where each person lived, where they went to school and so on.
I sat still. Bothered.
When Akay or my cousin H told me I had changed, I understood part of what they said. Yesterday I realized what they meant. This was so unlike me. In all my previous life circa 1993 – 2001 I never had an issue talking or feeling comfortable in a room full of strangers. The word “Shy” did not exist in my vocabulary. It did not matter if it was a girl or a guy. It did not matter if they looked intimidating. I would reach out with a warm handshake, query and probe till we found something common. I prided myself on the ability to be “outgoing”. I thrived in social situations.
Here I sat stymied by the lack of words, feeling shy. I berated myself internally and wondered what happened to the outgoing me. Why did my tongue feel all tied up? Why was I afraid of conversation? I wonder how much of it comes from self inflicted boundaries. Does age do that to people? I have no answers. Is it possible for someone who is deemed social and outgoing to suddenly turn introverted?
Looks like that is what has happened to me. I don’t like it.