When a group of people can turn an introvert into an extrovert… it is such an extraordinary thing.
I have been an introvert all my life and probably I always will. I am not really good at talking to other human beings, but I am good with cats (that is an extra credit for me). I don’t fit in anywhere, even when I am trying to. I don’t hate changes, I am scared. Afraid of being rejected by the new environment. I am that kid who doesn’t stand out, sitting as far away from the center, and as quiet as a statue. I show up and then gone. I am terrified when people notice me because then they will start to judge me.
When I am faced with a new scope of various types of people, I did what I do best, trying to be invisible. I thought I was still good at it, but these people I just met a week ago changed a whole new perspective in me.
A year ago, I only have a handful of friends that I can talk to, but not open up to. I don’t feel comfortable letting out the beast in me because I know some of them would not accept it when I steal the spotlight from them, so I listen and listen and in the end, I drew myself back from everyone slowly. In a new year, I have this huge opportunity to start everything fresh. Living back home with a new me, a totally different experience, and unexplored society.
I am not going to lie, the first thing that came up in my mind when I looked around the campus was that ‘I am not going to fit in with anybody here! Let’s just have 3-4 friends and then leave!’ I am a very judgemental person (though I hate to be judged as well). I met three people that surprisingly I am attached to easily. They are the sweetest and I am so grateful that I got to know them soon enough.
Then this outbound activity due on Tuesday and I was assigned to a group of 22 people that I had no idea who they were (but one of them is already a bestie to me so I am so so so ever thankful and relieved that I would not be as lost as I thought). Several days before the outbound, everyone had already gathered up with their own groups and mine was like, ‘Let’s meet up tomorrow’ until it was already two days before the departure.
So, we gathered up in a small square table outside the campus. Yeah, I was trying to tell myself, ‘shut up and listen’ and so I did. We introduced ourselves one by one, like names and what’s one thing that is unique about us. ‘Geez, these people have no idea how VERY ordinary my life is!’ so I only told them about this scorch in my left hand. One person said he looks like a Chinese but he does not have a Chinese heredity in his blood. One person is half Arabian, which is totally apparent. One person said about having chubby cheeks. One person said having dimples is unique, which I totally agree. Two are musicians and they are SOOO amazing. With other unique things like having beards and mustaches, scars, living in a forest, and other things that I probably don’t remember.
They were nice to me, thank God. Then the group chat started to be crowded, we followed each other on social media, and we talked or more like chatting. Some people have surprising mutual friends and alma maters. I still can’t explain it, but I started to be more comfortable around them and it was a very fast process. The hardest thing for me to do is feeling comfortable around new people. But, I somehow forgot about that weakness when I am with them.
On Tuesday, the day of the outbound, we agreed to wear black attire. We showed up looking all cool and macho…and very cohesive. I could not help myself not to smile and to feel proud. “Probably this group is not as bad as I thought”. We laughed and talked loudly while waiting for the bus to come. From day one, I already feel like I am a whole new person. I couldn’t control my brain, I kept blurting out all the absurd things I could think of. That was embarrassing! But in an utter shock to me, not a single person in my group think I was a weirdo. Maybe they think I am a weirdo and I just don’t know, but they let me become who I am. I have never really been this comfortable around new people so fast in my life. And I think I like it to be who I am now.
We got off the bus and we went directly to form a line in the middle of an opened field. The instructor was from the military based and he was mean! He commanded us to lay down on the hard and pebbly asphalt out of the blue and started yelling. He took our phone and money away for 3 days, some of us had no chance to say goodbye to their relatives. Me? Nah, nobody would even bother wondering where I was. Because again, I am just too good to be invisible.
I don’t know how it all happened but my group, we already are best friends. I mean, we just met once before that day and I wasn’t even sure I remembered all of their names yet. But what I did all day was just acting like a crazy person, making senseless jokes, and saying unfiltered slangs. But they were still being nice and I don’t know, they accepted me to be who I am just like that! Day one, we were busy standing straight like we were in a military force and mostly just bonding. We became even closer once again, I became even wilder. We discussed the whole night about our group project that has been assigned to us. To be honest, I had no clue what to say because my brain was a total nitwit when the clock starts hitting 10 pm. So, while feeling so bad and ashamed I did not say a word to help out on the group project, all I did was trying to force my eyes open and to nod my head when someone purposed an idea. Later on, I took the first shift for a night watch in the girl’s barrack until 1 AM with one of the members and my head was going to calcify like a time bomb, but I managed to stay conscious.
We have already gathered in the main field at 5 am. Even the sun was still asleep! We all did a little jogging, a little push-up, and morning exercise. After breakfast, we walked several miles (not sure how far, but it was a long and exhausting walk. I stumbled for far too many times because I have two left feet and I hate it when my clumsiness kicked in, I needed to look tough in front my team!).
We did climbings, crossing from one cliff to another using only a single rope as the bridge, walking down a very muddy cliff and then climbing back up with only using a rope as safety. Too many hurdles and I almost gave up in the middle of the day, but I kept screaming to myself inside my head ‘Don’t you dare give up on yourself now! You’re not the same coward as you were a year ago!’ and I finished all the four challenging games (though there were some embarrassing moments of me and also fro other members LOL in one or two, at least we did not give up!).
The whole group did a very good job and I think my group has the strongest bond among other groups! I am super proud!
We wrapped up the last day with boring group presentations that felt like an eternity. But we all survived those 3 rough days pretty fine!
So here is the thing, an introvert can also become an extrovert. Not necessarily for good, but sometimes a group of people can make the best out of an introvert. It all depends on who introverts spend the time with. I still can become the introvert of me when I am in class or anywhere I am really but when I am with this 21 people I newly met a week ago, I became my true self that I never realized was there in the first place. Like I was a whole new person! It is surprising, but I don’t know it also feels kind of relieving. It is like I have been holding my breath all these years and I can finally let it out. But outside this group, I will still be an introvert and will always be.
So, I want to do a shout out for these 21 people. Thank you so much to Tama, Adi, Derin, Ina, Devy, Feby, Fikia, Frank, Galang, Iqbal, Maya, Aji, Basra, Ira, Oldy, Restu, Sekar, Silvana, Taufiq, Zharfan (though you could not come during the outbound you contributed so much without you we would not be able to finish our group flag and chest numbers), and Zimam. You guys are amazing! Such gentlemen, because all the dudes in this group kept looking out after all the girl members and the girls are very caring to one another! Thank you so much group 1 (UNO!) for making me feel like I am finally accepted after so long. I am so proud of us! I love my new family and I hope we can always stay close until we all graduate! See you guys on top!