a personal style blog by Lauren Pfieffer

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Did You Sail Across the Sun?

Black Halter: Aeropostale.
Checked Skirt (actually a dress): Thrifted.
Loafers: TJ Maxx.
Lipstick in MAC's Rebel.

Hi there.

I've been struggling to remain confident in my personality here in Italy the last few weeks. It's strange. Most have insecurities about their bodies, their face, their outward appearance. And although I used to have these insecurities, not so much anymore. One thing I've never been able to quite get over though is the insufficiency I feel in my personality.

I love to be alone. I find solace and rejuvenation in being by myself. I like to think, take things in and just be. I have to push myself to be with other people and to interact with them. It's not that I'm unfriendly or rude...I just prefer to be alone, it is my natural tendency to gravitate towards being by myself. It's hard because its always made me feel like an outcast, like a loser. I want to be like everyone else. I want to be able to make friends, have good conversation, and feel a sense of satisfaction when I connect with others. But I don't. I just feel this crippling anxiety of thinking about every next word I'm going to say, worrying if I've offended them, turned them off to me, bored them, or just plain annoyed them. I usually can't have a conversation without walking away and feeling insecure that I wasn't good enough for this person, and that I'm not even worth talking to.

I wish sometimes I were just different. That I didn't have this issue of socializing, connecting with people, and just being myself. It's always been a problem for me, haunting me in high school, when I came to Kent, and still now in Italy. It's a problem that never really goes away for me, but now it just feels amplified being here where I don't feel like I fit in sometimes with the classmates I'm here with. Not only that, but my preference to 'be alone' doesn't really work in a foreign country when you need others to get around, experience new things, and have a rewarding study abroad experience. I'm so terrified of wasting my time here. That my personality will just hold me back from so much... I already feel like it has in some ways, so every day I just get more and more frustrated. Maybe people like me aren't meant to study abroad? I don't know, that's what it feels like somehow. I love my experience I'm having here, but it's when society tells me that being alone isn't okay...then I feel so much less satisfied with who I am and what I'm here for. 

I'm usually very dependent on my family to fill in the voids of my aloneness, but with them not here it's also been difficult.I feel as though they're the true people who understand me and accept this flawed, unaccepted personality I have...without them I feel kind of lost.

Just had to write some of these feelings out tonight. Don't mean to be such a downer. Don't mean to throw a pity party. And certainly don't mean to sound ungrateful. I've just been feeling all this burden on my shoulders building for the past few weeks since I've arrived and I feel like it's part of my experience here that I want to document. Not all days are perfect visits of Venice and scoops upon scoops of gelato...some days, it's hard to be here in ways I didn't expect. I'm getting through though, and I know it will all be okay. x

With much love, Lauren.


SB said...

Hum, I felt I should respond but how to do that and not turn things into a 'pity party'. I think in some ways you are being too hard on yourself, everyone is different some people are good around other people while others find it more difficult this isn't necessarily a bad thing it is just a difference. Try not to compare yourself to other people as you will always come up short, you are not having their experience of Italy you are having yours which will be different. I think everyone will be having their own struggles but perhaps not verbalizing them, you may even find that there are those who struggle with the same things as you.

I never understand why being by yourself is seem as such a bad thing, why those who enjoy that are made to feel like something is wrong with them. I love to be by myself (can't you tell) and that is when I do my best thinking and often enjoy things the most because I can just be me, I'm not trying to fit in and conform or worry about anyone else and how they are feeling I can just enjoy the moment.

I believe that you are meant to be right where you are right now God would not have placed you somewhere that wasn't right for you, even if you are struggling there is a reason for everything.

Lastly you are not alone in how you feel, reading what you wrote was it was like you were describing my personality I hope that I can find peace in just being me someday whether that be by myself or in a group.

Kezzie said...

Oh Lauren, I could have written this when I studied in Bali! I wanted to make the best of my time and yet I just needed time alone, I always struggled with big social situations, actually, I worried most about the two male American students there- I always felt that I wasn't cool enough for their company. The Europeans it was ok, I just wasn't such a party animal as they were and I didn't drink so I often found that hard. My Japanese friend, I only connected with a bit later on because we could only communicate in Indonesian and it's hard to communicate when both of you are trying to translate. Still, I was glad when we became closer through doing music together. She fitted in more with everyone than me though because she was a tomboy and so I became aware of how hard I found it.

I spent a LOT of time in my room, reading and singing. I also found being in a city hard- it was SO urban and loud and busy everywhere, I just wanted the sanctuary of a park or some countryside, a forest/woods but I didn't drive and it was too hot to take walks (though I did).

You are the way you are. We all are.
I feel exactly the same way you do in conversations with people I'm not really close to.In fact, I have a new head teacher at school and I constantly feel stupid when talking to him, just don't know how to be natural!x

Unknown said...

I think you already have the two best answers, but I'm going to add to the mix, anyway - Kezzie's answer makes me think that you have the opposite of me: that being in a huge city - or around huge urban centers - makes you "break out in a rash" ;) See, I have an opportunity to relocate ... but its even more isolated than where I am now, and that makes me "break out in a rash" ;)

You are an introvert, and that's just fine!!! (Have you ever taken anything like the Meyers-Briggs personality tests??? That would assure you that you are a "type", not an oddity. AND - at least where I took the M-B - as part of a church group - we were even shown how different styles of personalities pray differently! Which was very helpful!)

Ahh, yes ... I was going to ask again (even tho yes it is a social situation) have you found a church??? Maybe the Florence Gospel Fellowship International - fgfint.blogspot.com

Unknown said...

I really identify with this post Lauren! I have felt like this most of my life, it's like everybody else just knows how to act and interact with other people and I'm just missing that part. This is always difficult when I'm in a situation where I need to get to know a whole bunch of new people and I don't have the support of my closest to get through.
Some periods of time are worse than others, and that is usually what gets me through. I know from experience that even though I am not the social butterfly some of my peers seem to be, I am always okay, and I get by great on my own. I would just always prefer to be with my boyfriend or my best friend who I can totally relax with than new people, because strangers make me insecure. I get that feeling of not thinking you're good enough for other people, I feel like that too quite often.
I also try to look at the bright side:
Where other people are afraid to travel and do stuff alone, I know I will be fine, I am independent and smart and don't need other people to get around.
The people I feel comfortable with I know I will never lose because we mean so much to each other.
Getting a new close friend means SO much to me, and I feel like I treasure them more than I would if I had a hundred more.
People like us love other people like us... I can't count how many times I have approached another person who is almost invisible in a crowd and really hit it off with them. It's like we know how to connect with each other a lot better than other people know how to connect with us. Maybe we're just more unique?

I don't know if this helps, but as it did help me to see someone else with the same problem as me, maybe it helps you also to know there are more of us out there.
Also I think if I met you I would definitely feel like I wasn't good enough for you and I would love to have you as a friend.

Excited to read more about your stay abroad! I live in Norway (sorry if my english isn't great!) and in a couple of years I'm going to Manchester to study for a few months, so I hope everything starts working out for you in Italy (and also for me in Manchester).

On a more superficial note I do really love your style! It is a inspiration and I feel like you always stay true to yourself. I would be interested in seeing what clothes you brought to Italy, maybe in a video on your youtube-channel? Or tips for packing for a long trip like that. I love your videos, you're so interesting and relaxing to watch and listen to.

I hope you start feeling more secure, you definitely should. Try thinking that you're you and everybody else also have problems that you don't know about. You have no idea what their journey is about, so don't compare yourself to them!

Julia said...

I just really need to tell you that I relate so much to what you are writing! I feel like this most of my days, like I'm missing out on life because I don't have the same social abilities as others.
So know that you are not alone at feeling like this.
But also know that this doesn't mean that you have a bad personality nor that you are a bad person.
Social anxiety is something we slowly have to work against, but know that I think that you are a wonderful person and I think your blog is really inspiring!

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of us empathize. I used to do this a lot; I'd spend most conversations worrying about what to say or do, and afterwards feel a lot of guilt and anxiety. I tried instead to do two things:

1 - Focus on what the other person is/was saying. Most people just want to be heard. They, like you, are paying a lot more attention to their own words/actions than they are to you.

2 - After the conversation, pick ONE thing to improve for future social interaction. Don't let myself get anxious about anything else.

I've noticed a lot of improvement in myself over the past few years!

Good luck to you, Lauren. I love the honesty in your blog posts, and I wish you all the best.

April said...

Lauren, I've been following your blog for a while now (and enjoying it very much), but after reading this post, I just felt compelled to finally leave a comment to let you know your personality is NOT defective and you are definitely not alone in how you feel. You are a kindred spirit, not only to myself, but apparently to many others, who've also commented on here.

I wanted to also encourage you to see your desire to be alone, and your independence, not as a hindrance to traveling, but as a blessing! I've traveled abroad many times, even lived abroad for a year, and while certain social aspects were difficult for me, I learned to adapt, and I used my independence to simply go exploring on my own a lot, which I LOVED.

I also think it depends where you travel...in certain countries, the locals are extremely warm and friendly and readily accept you, no matter your personality. I found this to be true in Brazil, and consequently I found that socializing and making friends there was fairly easy for me.

So don't see your personality as a hindrance, but an asset. It won't hold you back if you don't let it. You and I and other introverts may have a more difficult time in certain situations, but we are NOT defective, and we have so much to offer to others. So hold your head high and embrace the beautiful person you are, not just externally, but internally.

God bless! (Sorry this was so long.)

Abbie said...

I randomly found your blog through another one and read this post... and this totally described me!!! I'm very quiet and very much an introvert. I can talk to people when necessary (preferably just one person, not a group), but when I'm having a conversation I feel like I don't know very much and I'm not very interesting! I walk away feeling like I didn't know what to say and do, and that the other person was bored. :( In a way I'm so thankful there are other people out there like me!!

Kay said...

You're just an introvert, just like approximately 24% of the population. You can read all about it in books on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, based on the great work of CG Jung. A lot of introverts feel overwhelmed by the majority (who thrive on what exhausts us.) It's a strength, not a weakness. You don't have a great blog based on just great fashion and beauty, it's your amazing personality that warms us and keeps us coming back. :)

Unknown said...

Thank you for being so open. I often feel the way sometimes also. I honestly can get so anxious about social interaction that I dread going to social events like parties, especially if I don't know people there. Its to the point where Ill avoid going, but usually the good thing is if I do go then I end up being glad I did. I think its best to just take it one day at a time and not be so hard on yourself. I can totally see why being abroad could enhance these feelings for you. I wish you the best cause you're an awesome girl!

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