English is my best subject because when I was little, books were pretty much my only friends. I remember getting excited to go to the library starting in 2nd or 3rd grade so I could checkout my weekend plans. I would begin with a pile of Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Nancy Drew and A Series of Unfortunate Events on my left, and by the end of the day, I would have moved the entire 10-15 book pile one by one to my other side as I completed their 150-300 pages of comfort. My parents were worried that I wasn’t socializing enough, but in my mind, I had already spent five full school days with my colleagues, and Saturday was my time to be alone. (see Research Shows That I Am Almost Autistic)
I never invited friends over to my house of my own accord until high school. When I asked if someone could come hang out during my freshman year, my mom thought I was joking. It wasn’t that I didn’t like having people around. I liked talking and chilling with people at school, sport practices and at church. To be honest, I just found the whole “play date” thing to be too much work. Yeah, I wanted my friend to come over and watch Even Stevens with me, but I didn’t want to figure out when my friend didn’t have piano lessons the same day I didn’t have gymnastics. It was much easier to just interact with others during my scheduled activities during the day, and interact with my favorite series’ protagonists at night. The only time I actually invited people over was when my mom decided I needed to have someone over. I was really good at making acquaintances.
After I decided to engage more in the world around me at the age of 14, my parents were excited and optimistic. Several awesome benefits exist to breaking out of a 14 year awkward stage:
1. I have never been grounded. Part of the reason my parents don’t ground me is because they don’t want to discourage me from interacting with other people. Also, when I was younger, being grounded wasn’t much of a punishment. My parents don’t feel right taking my books away, so when I do something contrary to the rules, they just talk to me for a long time about how disappointed they are, which is quite effective because it makes me feel really bad.
2. My parents are very open to letting me have large numbers of people over on a whim. Last year, I invited the entire freshman/sophomore basketball team over for a sleepover later that day. My parents were totally chill about it. They were slightly less okay with the patchwork quilt of Cheetos, chocolate chip cookies and empty pizza boxes that covered the basement floor the next day, but they didn’t object to letting 16 teenage girls into their house for an extended period of time in the first place.
3. I can read pretty fast and comprehend what’s happening. This isn’t so much a benefit of social awkwardness, but an absolute necessity. When I had 15 books to get through during a weekend in elementary, I learned to enjoy speed reading. I still like to read quickly. Some argue that they don’t like to rush through a good book, but the way I look at it, the faster you read, the more books you have time to enjoy.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend avoiding social interaction for long periods of time to lessen parental restrictions and increase reading proficiency. I’m really glad that I grew out of my introversion because usually, older people who don’t socialize live alone in caves and have scraggly beards. I don’t want to live alone in a cave and have a scraggly beard. When I started my freshman year, I decided to forge closer friendships with more people and not just stay cooped up in my room. I went from a small private school with 10 classmates to a 6A public high school with 400. So many people go to my school that it isn’t as difficult as it was in junior high to find a group of individuals with interests and feelings similar to my own. I obviously haven’t completely left my younger self behind; however, because I always write my blog posts on Friday nights or Saturday afternoons.