Ask Amy: Family secret destroys a lifelong friendship
Whether I attend (virtually) or not, I'm told off for being rude, shy, and antisocial.
I just can't win.
How do I explain to my extrovert relatives that I don't enjoy being around them as much as they think I should?
– Shy Anti-socialite
Dear Shy: You don’t owe your relatives an explanation regarding your own temperament. You have the right to exist as your own authentic self, and if you can’t do that in the midst of family gatherings without being mocked and feeling put-down, then you should skip these gatherings, unless you feel strong enough to either tolerate it, or push back.
They already deride you for being “antisocial” when you show up, so maybe you should take a pass for the next few months.
Tolerate it/or push back are two choices that don’t rely on trusting your family members to change. Because you cannot trust them to change.
Yes, within your noisy family you no doubt feel very vulnerable, but I hope you will do some reading and research in order to understand and recognize the beautiful superpower your introversion grants you: You are observant. You are thoughtful. You are empathetic. You will never wound someone else with your words.
I hope you will put your energy into connecting with other empathetic people who can support you through your gender and sexuality exploration. Glaad.org has a very helpful list of supportive resources for you.
Also read the groundbreaking book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain (2012, Penguin).