Hi, I'm Kathryn, and welcome to my fiftieth year.

Follow me as I learn how to be fifty.

How to take a walk on the mild side

How to take a walk on the mild side

I’ve never been overly sociable or comfortable in social situations where people or surroundings are unfamiliar. I guess back in the day it was called being shy. I wasn’t super shy as a kid but definitely was always a bit reserved, a bit quiet.  These days I have a new point of reference - I think I’m an introvert. Sounds so much more interesting than just being shy!

On the surface of it, it might seem that writing a blog is an un-introverty thing to do but social media is the perfect haunt for introverts. We get to lurk in the background and observe the big wide world and to be at arms length of it at the same tine.

Being an introvert seems to be a thing these days. Label aside, I can definitely see that I have some of the characteristics. It’s not that I’m unsociable but more that I have a general tendency to choose to stay home over going out, to choose to be with those close to me rather than with a big group.

I’ve never suffered from FOMO. I’m cool to ‘miss out’ on things I don’t want to do. I’m not adventurous, I don’t want to bungy jump or paraglide, I don’t want to drive in a fast car or go on ascary ride, I don’t want to go on the biggest, fastest, tallest whatever. The promise of setting yourself free through facing your fears and achieving more than you ever thought possible just doesn't wash with me. To those that say I just need to try it - I don’t; that I’ll love it once I've tried it - I won’t. I know myself well enough to know that I’m quite happy to miss out on those things.

I do however like watching people I know doing things that are fun and a bit scary. I’m a great spectator, I’ll hold the bags and jackets, cheer from the sidelines and take the photos. I’ll hold my breath, watch through my fingers and enjoy every nail-biting moment. I’ll share in the excitement and the post event exhilaration and be in awe of your accomplishment. I’ll relive it with you time and again. But none of that makes me want to join in - that emotional rollercoaster ride is more than enough for me.

I really like the idea of a special event and I enjoy the countdown to the big day. I get a kick out of discussing and planning what I’ll wear and who’ll be there etc.  I really love the build up but as the event gets closer I start having second thoughts and start thinking I’d rather not go. Sometimes the thinking and and planning is enough for me. So I’ve learned to develop strategies to manage in social situations like these, and I like to go in with a plan of attack. I start with a rough idea about when I’ll leave, mark out and occupy some territory, hang with people I know, and make myself useful by helping with the food, tidying the kitchen (I’m also quite handy if there are children or old people!). Usually once I’m there I do ok and enjoy myself but I’ll never be the life of anyone’s party.

I’ve not really ever been susceptible to the pull of peer pressure or influence of others. Even in my teenage years when this was at its worst I never got into the stuff my friends did. I’d like to think this was about a strong character but in truth I know this was as much about a natural tendency towards being sensible, to being hesitant and to worry about things.  My preference to walk on the mild side is a path I chose for myself a long time ago and I’m comfortable with that. 

I’ve recently come across JOMO - the joy of missing out. Unlike its evil twin FOMO, this is all about focussing inward and being comfortable in your own skin and your own company. Now I’m a grown up, I know what energises me, motivates me and enriches my life, and it’s not cramming a hectic social schedule into the weekend. I absolutely treasure my weekends and prefer to not have too many plans or commitments. I like my weekends to bea loose couple of days where I get plenty of time at home tostay in bed and read, have endless cups of tea, potter in the garden, do yoga, walk the dog, go out for breakfast, cook, light a fire outside.  When I get to work on Monday and the inevitable question is asked about what I did on the weekend, I proudly answer “nothing”

The comfort of home has a really strong pull for me. It is my happy place, my safe place, the place where I breathe out, unwind and recharge. It is both emotional and spiritual in a way I can’t quite explain. Busy weekends out don’t work for me but I’m perfectly happy being busy at home. I get great pleasure from working in the garden, cleaning the house (sad but true), sitting in the sun and just being home.

But it’s not all lollipops and rainbows. There can be a fine line, a flip side where my personality and social preferences can go to the dark side. I’m not so comfortable in the night time and don't do so well on my own, particularly if I have to sleep in the house by myself. It all stems from fear of the dark. I’ve always been scared of the dark. That’s when the crazy kicks in and I imagine all sorts of evil happening to me. I get myself prepared by keeping lights on, playing the radio and sometimes, keeping a domestic weapon close by like something heavy or the bread knife. It has occurred to me that I could be the architect of the gruesome death I fear by handily providing a murder weapon to a crazed psychopath coming in the window.

Another downside is that I can become quite fixed in my thinking and I can form enduring views about what I do and don’t like. I’m a nightmare to watch a movie with as I only want to watch movies I think I’ll like. Despite all advice to the contrary, I do tend to judge a book by its cover. I like to eat at cafes that I’ve been to before so I know I’ll like them. This aspect of my personality is something I need to work on as see the potential for it to limit experiences and discovery is very obvious.

No one person has absolutes about their personality or character. It is the shades of grey within us all that makes us who we are but they don’t define us. With all my plusses and minuses, I am living and enjoying my life in away that suits me. I don’t need the introvert or shy label stamped on my forehead to know who I am. I am thankful and grateful everyday for the life that I have.


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