An Introvert’s Dirty Little Guide to Getting Along With People (when you’d rather be at home with a book.)

The world is full of people, and each person is carrying a load of memories, experiences, and concerns that make them see the world differently from you. Even when a person was raised in the same house and has the same parents and attended the same church and school, they’re going to approach the world differently from you.

In fact, even you are going to see things differently tomorrow than you will today. So, given that we can’t even count on ourselves to behave in a consistent, normal manner, how do we deal? Here are a few pointers.

  1. Give up on normal. Nobody is normal. In fact, if someone was normal—we’d find them odd. And boring. Celebrate that everyone is unique and therefore, everyone has something to teach us. Whether you’re learning that you want to be like them, or that you don’t want to make their mistakes, everyone is a teacher. And if you’re open, you can be the student.
  2. Recognize that you aren’t everyone’s favorite flavor of ice cream. Not everyone is going to appreciate your quirkiness. That’s okay. Actually, that’s good, because they are one less person you have to devote your energy to. Don’t stew over why they may or may not want to sit at your table and laugh at your jokes. Let them go and find their own crowd.
  3. Let people grow up. Just because your little sister used to gallop around, toss her hair like it was a mane, answer questions with a neigh, and act like a pony twenty years ago, that doesn’t mean she’s going to embarrass you today. (Although, she might.) But we need to allow people to grow up and out of their immaturities…or accept them even when they don’t.
  4. Be a buffalo and brave the storms. When buffalos see an approaching storm, they run into it, while cows run away. But because cows are notoriously slow, they stay in the storm longer…and they don’t live as long as the brave buffalos. This is a great analogy on how to handle conflict in an important relationship. Learn how to have those crucial conversations. Say what needs to be said. Be honest.
  5. Lean into your emotions, but don’t be dominated by them. When someone close to you hurts you (and they will) or when you hurt them (and you will), sit with the emotion, study it, and observe it before you react. Ask yourself, what can I do with this? Where do I want this relationship to go? Who do I want to be?
  6. Always be the hero of your story. Don’t play the victim. Try not to be the villain (although, sometimes that might happen, even when you don’t want it to.) Every moment of every day, you’re writing your life story. Make it a good one. Fill it with colorful characters. Be the hero who is not only saving herself but doing her best to help those around her write their own very best life stories.

And when it all get’s too exhausting, find a good book, curl up in a corner with a cup of cocoa, and take a breather until you’re ready to face the world and all its people again.

Kristy Tate is a USA Today bestselling novelist, a mom to six, a grandmother to many, she has too many nieces, nephews, in-laws, and cousins to count (mostly because she hates math, but also because she has a lot) and she tries to love them all. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

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