The day finally came to meet my girlfriend’s family. But it wasn’t just her parents—it was also her stepmom, aunt, uncle, and cousins. No big deal for an introvert like me, right?
Let’s say introverts are highly-reactive people who salivate more than others when exposed to lemon juice. Then you’ll understand why the thought of meeting everyone at once was like squeezing the contents of an entire lemon straight into my mouth. And maybe a couple of drops in my eye. Needless to say, I was a bit anxious.
During the meeting, I felt like I was being quiet. I felt overwhelmed and found it difficult to make a personal connection with anyone at the table.
Afterward, I was discussing how things went with my girlfriend. I expressed to her that I thought I was being kinda quiet. “Oh, no,” my girlfriend assured me. “You did great.”
After she said that, I thought about it for a minute. I did, didn’t I? I thought. Why should I be so hard on myself? I didn’t need to be the life of the party. I didn’t need to make best friends with everyone.
Parents want their children to be with someone who makes them happy. Someone safe. You don’t have to be Superman to be a great significant other in the eyes of parents.
Reflecting back on this meeting after talking to my girlfriend, I realized I was able to see myself through a different filter. As people, often we kinda suck at judging ourselves accurately. If you’re reading this, you are probably one of those people who consistently has a self-criticism that far exceeds any criticism of anyone else. In this instance, I was looking at myself through the lens that told me I needed to “win everyone over.” In reality, I should have been looking at myself through the lens of “be the man that your girlfriend loves, and the rest will follow.”
As introverts, we tend to do a lot of overanalyzing. We want things to be “just right.” We don’t like to waste time or energy on things that don’t end up being just the way we want them. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s great to have high standards and not go through life hastily.
That being said, this meeting made me realize it’s important to not be quiet because “you think that someone will think that you are ____.” Annoying. Dumb. Awkward. Insert whatever negative adjective comes to mind here. There’s a lot of irrational self-judgment when we start acting a certain way because of how we think others will perceive us. Most of the time, we’re only seeing a part of the picture of ourselves.
Enjoying a moment with someone in silence can be one of the most peaceful and fulfilling parts of a relationship. When you get to that point where you can be with someone and feel okay about not being the superman at family meetings or not feel awkward with long silences, then you know you’ve got something special.
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