Ashley Kelsch: ‘Am I an Introvert or Just Lazy?’
“By not putting myself out there, I’ve been able to avoid rejection along with uncomfortable emotions”
By Ashley Kelsch
Ashley Kelsch is Austin’s top certified, professional dating and relationship coach and former owner of Teddies for Betty’s, the lingerie boutique on 2nd Street that she ran for a decade. She offers one-on-one life-coaching programs to help clients acknowledge and understand limiting beliefs, to set boundaries and to learn how to change mindsets so they can get what they want in their romantic lives and feel empowered. Ashley helps men and women of all ages, single and married. She has a weekly podcast called Modern Renegades, and you can follow her on Instagram @AshleyMKelsch. Read more of her Tribeza columns here.
I’ve always considered myself an introvert. A lot of people have this assumption that I’m the kind of person who can or will walk into a room and talk to anyone. Quite the contrary. I’m the person that walks into a room and immediately looks for one familiar face. If I don’t see one, I head for the nearest wall. Or nearest exit.
But sometimes, when you’re in a group of strangers, there’s no way around it: you must engage. This happened to me recently after joining a new run group. There I was, at 5:45 a.m. (my least favorite time of day) about to run 10 miles with a bunch of people I didn’t know. Thankfully we had the one thing in common, running. After names were exchanged, a few questions — the basic pleasantries of a run group, if you will — flowed easily.
Are you training?
Ever raced before?
When did you join the group?
After this brief introduction I felt satisfied to just listen and to drop into my body and run. But then came more questions. And more questions. I found myself thinking, I don’t want to answer that. I don’t want to talk about what I ate last night. Or what foods I think are best or when to drink water and go to the bathroom. The conversation kept going.
I noticed one person leading it. After any small silence, she posed new questions to keep everyone engaged. I found it fascinating and started thinking about how great of a communicator she was. She wasn’t just throwing out random questions to keep everyone distracted. When someone would mention something, she would have a follow-up question or thoughtful comment. She was more than engaged.
I wondered what she was like in school. Was she voted Most Likely to Be Your Friend and Make You Feel Comfortable? Class president? Head of her sorority? Then I thought about how much energy it requires to keep everyone engaged, to be responsive, to listen and ask questions.
She was at a level of energy that seemed foreign to me, that would require work for me to reach. And then it hit me — maybe I’m not an introvert and I’m just socially lazy. I don’t make an effort. I don’t try to engage. Instead, I shy off to the side and call it “introverted,” which allows me to stay “safe” from putting myself out there.
Introverts tend to prefer alone time and are often drained by too much social interaction, according to this definition provided by Healthline. They are likely to have a close and small circle of friends and usually need to recharge after spending time in social situations. Though some of that remains true for me, I believe I’m using it as an excuse to disengage.
Not because I’m an introvert.
Not because I’m practicing non-judgment when I’m seeing someone.
Not because I don’t want to waste my time with people I don’t “know.” (Okay, this one is 50/50 because I do believe my time is valuable and am mindful of how and with whom I choose to spend it. But I do this even with the ones I’m interested in. I have a laundry list of “rules” when dating.)
Now that I’m thinking about it, this laziness extends into my sex life, too. The notion that “I love to surrender to a man who loves to please a woman” could be restated like this: “Can I just lie there while you please me?” Is this why I’m resentful or annoyed by some porn and acrobatic performance sex? I’m over here enjoying my lazy surrender and others are making me look bad!
The emotions required to speak up in a group, approach new people or have the dating life or relationship of your dreams take courage. It also requires my brain to operate on another level, which requires more energy. And my brain wants to do what’s easiest.
On one hand, by not putting myself out there, I’ve been able to avoid rejection along with a variety of uncomfortable emotions. But the reality is I risk not connecting with other people and possibilities.
If I don’t practice and engage with this energy, I remain static, complacent and perhaps I’m missing out on my biggest possible life.
I’m shifting gears. I’m not going to stay because I’m comfortable in a relationship.
I’m going to ask the guy out if I’m interested.
I’m going to ask the questions while running with strangers.
I’m going to spend time texting and talking to people.
I’m going to walk into the room and approach a group.
I’m going to stop canceling or saying no to invites.