Sometimes When You Finally Come Out of Your Shell, You Won’t Like What You Find There

a photo of two snails, one inside its shell, the other not
Image by fdecomite / CC BY

I’ve been coming out of my shell again lately.

I moved from Cleveland to Dallas five months ago, after spending a stressful few months fixing up and selling our old house.

It was a lot of upheaval. And it happened all in a blitz, too fast for me to have any hope of processing it.

About a month and a half ago, I wrote a piece noting that I’d been incredibly introverted since arriving in Dallas. This is not normal for me, to hunker down and stay inside. To not have any local friends to speak of. And spend most of my time hanging out with my partner or simply writing.

One friend I spoke to online (who is back in Cleveland) noted that I could be a bit of a homebody sometimes, even in Cleveland. That I’d go months sometimes without socializing outside of a party situation.

Back in Cleveland, we were those people with a “party house.” A place where people would come and gather. So I didn’t go out as much as others came over. And my friend was right… there were times when I wouldn’t go out one on one much with friends between parties, especially if I were working a lot.

But that was eight years after I got there (having moved to Cleveland from rural Maine where I’d lived my entire life).

When I first got to Cleveland, I went out pretty much constantly. I didn’t just throw my own parties, but I was often going to parties and events with other people, trying to establish a new social circle as quickly as possible.

And I was very successful.

I grew a rather large circle of friends in those efforts. I became a sort of social connector among certain kinds of people — open-minded geeks mostly.

At a certain point, I knew so many people that I didn’t have to go out and look for friends; my existing friends would bring them to me and introduce me.

I’ve Been Taking My Time Making Local Friends

So when I moved to Dallas, I expected that would be Task Number One. Establishing a new social circle.

But I collapsed instead. Slept a ton that first weekend. And then when I was physically recharged, I proceeded cautiously, learning the area slowly.

And I threw myself into writing a slipstream murder mystery I’d been planning for quite some time but hadn’t finished, called Psychic City. The book’s main characters are three geeky butt-kicking female detectives with psychic powers that are all dating each other (spoiler: having psychic powers does not make it easier to have healthy relationships; it just makes the challenges different).

I did continue to chat from time to time with folks back in Cleveland. They’ve kept in touch. And I do have a few friends who were always located somewhere else that I speak to off and on — some in Maine, some in Boston, and one in Florida — where little about our relationship has changed due to the move, other than my having to do Central Time math when we’re talking about time.

I’m sure all that helped.

I Finished the Book I Was Working on – Yay!

Anyway, I finished the first draft of Psychic City last week (huzzah!) and it’s going off to my editor. I expect revisions sometime in the new year, after we’ve both had a chance to do the holidays.

How long it’ll be from there to publication is a product of how much work the rough draft needs. But I’m excited.

I’ve never poured so much of my heart into a project (I really pushed myself, went places I’m normally scared to go). I consider this book to be the best thing I’ve ever written. We’ll see what my editor thinks though! (Their opinion is more important.)

I Have Started Trying to Make Local Friends

But it is very funny timing that the day that I finished my book, I also went out and started trying to make friends. We managed to meet a local guy who seemed nice at one of my husband’s races (he races cars as a hobby) and eventually met up to hang out, first in public and then later at his house for a barbecue.

I came into the hangout clear-headed with low expectations. Part of the reason I am yet to dive into the local kink and/or poly scene is that I’m not really looking to be friendly soulmates with anyone, the kind of deep friendships I’m used to having (which seem to happen more frequently there for me). I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

Sometimes people treat me differently, too, when they’ve read my blog, so I wanted to go into my first situations meeting people who aren’t familiar with my writing.

I am more just trying to engage with folks on a surface level, especially to start. To have a barbecue I can go to every couple of Friday nights where people drink beer (or whatever) and make small talk.

That’s the speed I was moving at. And why I was thrilled when it looked like that was about to happen.

I’ll spare you the goriest details and give you the broadest strokes: It quickly went a little pear-shaped. Basically because his wife got hammered, administered a political purity test, and became adversarial and confrontational when she figured out that we’re not on the “Build That Wall” train re: the Mexican border. We’d had no plans to discuss politics and were stunned when we were put on the spot.

Now, everything’s fine. Don’t worry about me. But it was definitely unpleasant and we’re likely to not end up being close friends or really friends at all. (Although I do believe she was blackout drunk as she reached out to me the next day acting as though nothing had happened, so it would seem that I’d have the option to try again if I were so inclined.)

Sometimes When You Finally Come Out of Your Shell, You Won’t Like What You Find There

Was I sad and disappointed immediately after? Yes. I’d been excited at the opportunity to make new friends or even just friendly acquaintances.

But I’m not going to let it discourage me.

I keep reminding myself: Sometimes when you come out of your shell, you don’t find what you’re looking for out there. At least not immediately.

That doesn’t mean that you were wrong to come out of your shell or that you should immediately go back in.

I know there are plenty of other people to meet outside of my shell that will be fun to encounter, even if this first foray was a dud.

That said, I may just keep on taking things really slowly. It’s working well for me so far.

And I might just need a minute to recover, bless my heart.

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Books by Page Turner:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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1 Comment

  1. I am going through this similar thing. Cautiously trying to make new friends. I don’t know much about Texas. I’m in Indiana so I understand navigating the social waters in the midwest. I am a very liberal, open minded free spirit. For this reason I’ve always been a little apprehensive of Texas. No offense meant.

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