Author Topic: Self-consciousness and shyness  (Read 1310 times)

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Offline Luthien

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Self-consciousness and shyness
« on: August 30, 2016, 04:16:25 PM »
A bit of background for my questions: After several years of going back and forth about Orthodoxy, I have been consistently attending a church for the past couple months. I try to attend as many services as I can in addition to the DL on Sundays (Vespers, weekday DLs for feasts, etc). I decided I couldn't once and for all make a firm choice about Orthodoxy until I started to try to be consistent. The good news is that, since resolving to do this, I have been strengthened in my conviction and am now feeling certainty about becoming a catechumen. I have going to the church on and off for ten months. There were many months where I did not go at all. I have met with the priest on two occasions and have had a few conversations with him after services, as well as email correspondence. I made my desire to become a catechumen clear to him, but we haven't discussed it in several weeks.

So far, I am feeling at peace with my decision and feeling more sure about being Orthodox the more services I go to...and I thank God for that.

My issue is with parish life and talking with the priest. I am naturally an introverted person. I can be talkative with people I really connect with, but on the whole I usually avoid talking to anyone. Many people at this church (it is relatively small, I usually see 50-60 regular attendees on a given Sunday, but the church might have double that number in total members) have introduced themselves at this point and been friendly. There is one woman who has been especially welcoming who practically forced me (in the sweetest way) to come to coffee hour recently. Otherwise, I would not have gone yet. I tend to just go to the service and bolt immediately. I have a 2 year old and a 4 month old, and they also seem to be good conversation starters. I think more people come up to talk to me because of them. If not for them, maybe I would not have talked to anyone yet.

Part of me knows that if I am going to really do this, I need to become a part of parish life. Another part of me just wants to be invisible. I don't want to be "that person" that talks too much and traps people in conversation. Being at such a small church, I feel like everyone knows everyone so well, like family, and I just feel awkward because I have nothing to really talk about aside from my interest in Orthodoxy. My feelings I know are silly on some level because many people at this church are converts, (at least half by estimation, maybe more, though there are some cradles too) as is the priest himself. I also feel bad about talking to the priest. I feel like I am wasting his time, taking him away from his family, or stretching him to thin because he has a lot of things to do. Don't get me wrong, I don't even talk to him after every service, and have only met to talk with him twice in person (the two visits were were almost six months apart). I have started to become so self-conscious of my presence here as an outsider, and think I probably seem crazy because I try to go to all the services. I don't even want to talk the priest anymore, I think I will just wait for him to approach me, that way I know that it is on his terms and I am not bothering him.

What is weird is that I didn't feel this way until this past week for some reason...

Maybe some other people on the path to conversion, or new converts, can relate to what I am saying...

It doesn't stop me from wanting to be Orthodox or go to services in the slightest, but the feeling of wanting to avoid everyone is very strong, to the point of even not making eye contact so I go unnoticed.

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Self-consciousness and shyness
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2016, 04:33:51 PM »
As a relatively recent convert, I have as a close memory the gradual experience of slowly getting more and more bonds with people from the parish. I was pretty paranoid in the beginning but it was eventually sorted out by standing by in coffee hour. I hope the same happens to yourself, be patient.

Maybe expressing to him your will to become a catechumen would be a good ice-breaker. There is a guy in the parish to whom I have talked from the beginning, he himself led me to the priest when I expressed my wish. Maybe there is someone with whom you are comfortable enough to make the same?
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Self-consciousness and shyness
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2016, 05:00:02 PM »
I tend not to be so good with socializing and, in fact, had to really push myself to go to coffee hour and talk to people. At my current parish, pretty much come for liturgy, sing in the choir, and go home afterward, mostly because I don't really have the time to stay afterward.  For the priest, you shouldn't worry about imposing on his time. It's of course his job to receive inquirers and if, on a given day, he doesn't have the time, he'll let you know. Meeting individually with inquirers is part of what they do; if there are lots of inquirers, they'll hold classes. Whatever the case may be, I doubt he would begrudge your questions or meeting with you to discuss your possible reception.
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Offline Ainnir

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Re: Self-consciousness and shyness
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2016, 06:51:53 PM »
I absolutely felt/feel like this.  I definitely wish I could be invisible.  I'm not sure about becoming a catechumen yet, so it's even worse.  I feel like a joyful waste of space when I'm there.  It's been about two months since I've been to Divine Liturgy, though.  I don't want to come and go; I need some direction/advice before going back (or not).  I may get to meet with the priest in a few weeks, to that end, but I feel it's a waste of his time and I'll probably blunder the whole thing anyway.  He is extremely busy, seemingly nonstop.  So I definitely don't want to add to the burden.

I'm introverted, have abysmally low self-esteem, am horrible at small talk, and definitely prefer one-on-one or small group situations.  And I'm definitely better on paper (sad to admit, but true).  So coffee hour is interesting.  I go because the kids want to and all my reasons not to are selfish.  People are nice, though, and I can sit and smile.  I just can't stop feeling stupid and awkward.  There's an added dimension of culture, as well.  I don't know if or how I fit.  I also know I can't not be me.  So that's weird, too.
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that.

Offline Luthien

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Re: Self-consciousness and shyness
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2016, 09:52:54 PM »
As a relatively recent convert, I have as a close memory the gradual experience of slowly getting more and more bonds with people from the parish. I was pretty paranoid in the beginning but it was eventually sorted out by standing by in coffee hour. I hope the same happens to yourself, be patient.

Maybe expressing to him your will to become a catechumen would be a good ice-breaker. There is a guy in the parish to whom I have talked from the beginning, he himself led me to the priest when I expressed my wish. Maybe there is someone with whom you are comfortable enough to make the same?

I have told the priest already that I want to be a catechumen. He sent me some information several weeks ago about what that would entail, and we have not discussed it since. I don't want to be pushy and figure he will tell me when I am ready. He has certain requirements (2 month minimum of inquiry, one year minimum as a catechumen as well reading certain books, taking catechism classes, visiting other churches)

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Self-consciousness and shyness
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2016, 09:58:03 PM »
I'm pretty introverted as well. When I began attending, I didn't talk to anyone. I was a loner and was pretty much invisible. Once I got to know people better, I made friends and some are now very dear to me. Some people jump right in and become friends with everyone, others just don't work that way. I would just keep attending and only do what you are comfortable doing.
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Offline DeniseDenise

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Re: Self-consciousness and shyness
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2016, 10:30:05 PM »
I would just like to say, for those who fear missteps and blunders, there are no such things when seeing God honestly.

Priests know that people have various personalities and things won't be taken as some giant issue.

Keep attending. It will all come into place when it's the right time.
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Offline Vanhyo

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Re: Self-consciousness and shyness
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2016, 06:16:01 AM »
My priest is also very busy man, this is why i converse with him often via the internet, this way, i can write something to him and he can respond to me when he can.

Also, i think you should make an effort to get to know the people over there, after all you will be sharing the same chalice.


« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 06:17:29 AM by Vanhyo »

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Self-consciousness and shyness
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2016, 04:32:06 PM »
I am naturally an introverted person. I can be talkative with people I really connect with, but on the whole I usually avoid talking to anyone.

...

I tend to just go to the service and bolt immediately.

This is mostly how I roll nowadays.  It need not stop you from being Orthodox. 

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Part of me knows that if I am going to really do this, I need to become a part of parish life.

Yes, but there isn't just one way to do that.  You needn't feel obligated to fit into some sort of "parishioner mould".  In a given parish, the way you are "part of parish life" can be different from how someone else is "part of parish life".  If you end up belonging to more than one parish over time (e.g., due to a move), how you are "part of parish life" may vary from parish to parish even if you are the same person.  Someone suggested doing only what you feel comfortable doing, and that's probably good advice.     

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I also feel bad about talking to the priest. I feel like I am wasting his time, taking him away from his family, or stretching him to thin because he has a lot of things to do. Don't get me wrong, I don't even talk to him after every service, and have only met to talk with him twice in person (the two visits were were almost six months apart). I have started to become so self-conscious of my presence here as an outsider, and think I probably seem crazy because I try to go to all the services. I don't even want to talk the priest anymore, I think I will just wait for him to approach me, that way I know that it is on his terms and I am not bothering him.


If you wait for him to approach you, that might work...he might approach you "on his terms" so you are not "bothering" him.  Then again, he may never approach you.  Not all priests are extroverts, many are introverts.  In either group, some are better at exercising pastoral ministry than others.  They're imperfect and human.  Just ask their wives.  ;) 

Don't worry about feeling like you're imposing on the priest.  It's his job to be at your service while balancing family and other pastoral commitments. 

Offline John S

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Re: Self-consciousness and shyness
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2016, 11:03:01 PM »
Our priest is good with e-mails and always responds at some point.  Maybe you could try that. 

Coffee hour was much easier to break into when I was a catechumen than I originally thought it would be.  I just sat down at a table and people just started to question me about my background, interest in joining, etc and everything kind of fell into place from there.

I also tried to socialize with the younger crowd on Saturday nights to get to know them better once I felt comfortable around them.