Overcoming the fear of The Group

Hi, I’m Zabby, and I’m a Capital-I Introvert. Often when I tell people this about myself, they laugh and say something like “but you’re so friendly!” There’s been a lot of discussion in the general zeitgeist* these days of what real introversion means (Exhibit A , Exhibit B). Really, it comes down to the fact that social interaction takes energy. A lot of introverts are also sensitive, like I am— and that combination can be challenging. I find it hard to talk to people I don’t know, and I hate being in the middle of a crowd (I’d rather be on the edge). I don’t like loud things with lots of stimulation or being forced into conversation. I hate feeling trapped. I DON’T hate people— I have friends who I love deeply and want to be with. But I have, like, eight, not fifty.

At the same time, I believe in the benefits of a group— for motivation, accountability, energy, inspiration, pushing boundaries, learning.  It’s NOT about competition, comparison, or shame. “Make a date with a workout buddy!” is such common advice now that it’s almost a cliche.

I know those benefits are waiting for me, if I can push myself over the “OH NOES! STRANGERS! TALKING!” wall that I sometimes manage to build.

So, I go to the yoga studio. I might go to a class, or a group practice. I park myself along the side, near the door, so I don’t feel too crowded in.

group vibe
group vibe

And it’s wonderful! I get some instruction and cues, yes, but what I mostly get is the energy of a bunch of people practicing, and the will to do hard poses I might not do at home, and the structure and motivation to do an hour when I might stop after 20 minutes by myself. It’s still my practice, and I’m still doing my thing, but it’s. . . different.

And I go to group runs and workouts with a running group here, Tucson Runners Project. We meet up for a run or a track workout, and then I usually go on by myself, but again, it’s different. There’s an energy. There’s a sense of being in this together. There’s encouragement and high-fives after. There’s awe at fast people, and awe at slow people. And I run faster, even though I’m  not being paced by someone, or trying to catch someone. I’m doing my thing, but my thing is . . . different.

And after all that, I still do most of my running alone, and I still practice yoga at home. But even there, even alone, I feel the benefit of having been with others.

alone time
alone time

What about you? Do you like to do your thing solo, or do you vibe on group energy?

*BINGO! [here at zabbylogica, we like to play academia bingo. did someone just casually slip one of those ridiculous academic words into the conversation? BINGO!

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