I'M FINALLY OKAY WITH NOT BEING A JOINER

There's so many new and interesting opportunities out there to discover - but what if you don't want to join in with every new challenge?

LEARNING SOMETHING NEW ABOUT MYSELF

My blogging friend Jennifer (from Next Phase In Fitness) made a comment in her "67 Things About Me" post saying "I’m a boring person and really don’t care". It made me smile because I think we often see ourselves as boring and wonder how we can make ourselves seem more interesting or engaging, and I loved that she's reached the point where she doesn't care.

I know I sometimes feel the urge to make myself seem more interesting. In the process I look at all the wonderful online options that are available (especially since COVID shut down a lot of face to face events). There are virtual hikes, virtual book clubs, virtual exercise classes, virtual yoga sessions, virtual paint and sip events, virtual cooking classes.....the list is endless. But seeing the huge range of things on offer taught me something new about myself.

I THOUGHT I'D BECOME AN INTROVERT

So many people get excited about all these events and activities. They're signing up left, right and centre. They pay their joining fee and they have a ball. But not me. I keep getting invited to join things that others are on fire about and I just don't want to. Someone comes up with a great new idea and because they're enthused and excited, I should be too.

I thought that not wanting to be part of all these interesting groups meant that I had become a bit of a party pooper and an introvert. I was sitting at home doing stuff that filled my day, quite content to be in my own space, on my own time, and totally disconnected from all the options available to me at the click of a button (and the tap of a credit card). Even the free groups really didn't appeal. I wondered why I wasn't jumping on the band wagon like all my friends.

Some people don't understand that sitting in your own house in peace, eating snacks and minding your own business is priceless

I REALIZE I'M JUST NOT INTO JOINING GROUPS

What I've concluded is that I'm just not a "Joiner" - I really don't like committing to something that may not be as interesting as someone else makes it sound. The perfect example happened a while ago when a friend was talking about the virtual book clubs she's a part of (yes - clubs - she's in a few!) and waxed lyrical about a book that she'd just finished reading that had won several awards. She absolutely loved it, so consequently I was excited, I was keen, I immediately downloaded the book. I opened it and started reading......and HATED it! I skimmed a bit further in and HATED it even more. I ended up deleting it from my Kindle and if it was a "real" book (made of paper) that I'd paid good money for, I'd probably have set it on fire!

The joy of not being a "Joiner" meant I didn't have to attend an online book club meeting that went for an hour or two while I listened to others say how much they loved it. I could just bin it and move on. (I checked the reviews on Goodreads and there were a few who thought it was rubbish too - and many more who loved it passionately). It was great not having to explain why I hated it - I loved not feeling like a disappointment, or a plebeian non-literary knob. I just moved on and read something else that I enjoyed more.

HOW TO SAY 'NO' POLITELY

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy some online (and real life) interaction, but I'm getting so much better at saying "No" to things that don't appeal to me. My self-image isn't as tightly tied into pleasing people as it used to be. I can say No and move on graciously. I still have a battle with the sense of letting people down by not wanting to be a part of their challenge or passion. I often don't even have a strong or definitive reason why I don't want to join in, but I think it hinges around not wanting to commit to something that may not be sustainable.

Today I said "no" and I didn't apologize or explain myself - Brooke Hampton quote

I remember laughing at the younger generation who would say "Yes" to an invitation but with the disclaimer of "unless I get a better offer" - and now I can empathize a little with the idea of not wanting to be tied down to something that may not be a commitment I want to undertake long term. It's easier to say No and not join than to try to extricate myself later down the track when I don't feel like being part of it any more.

PLEASE ASK ME, BUT EXPECT ME TO SAY 'NO'

The only real dilemma I have with the whole non-joiner label is that I know it can mean that I'll miss out on things. People will stop asking me to join when they know I'll probably say No. The conundrum is that I still want to be asked, I want to be able to weigh up the pros and cons and make a decision based on what feels right for me. And strangely, not being asked would make me feel a little bit left out and sad.

I want to be invited - but I'm not coming

So, I'm kind of a contradiction in terms - I don't want to join, but I like the idea that others would consider inviting me to participate. Maybe it stems back to those days of waiting to get picked for a sports team in high school and the dread of not being chosen? Who knows what goes on in my head? - I certainly don't! But I do know that I'm okay with saying "No thanks" to invites these days - it may seem like I don't care, I actually do, and I don't want to disappoint, but I also want to pick and choose what feels right for me at this particular time and place in my life - and not joining in with every new offer that comes along seems to be the best fit for me right now.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Do you join in with every new group, challenge, class, or offer that comes your way? Is your week full of interesting activities and commitments that fire up your mind? Or are you like me - feeling the need to pull back a little, letting opportunities pass by while you quietly do your own thing? I'd love to know what you think in the comments.

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There's so many new and interesting opportunities out there to discover - but what if you don't want to join in with every new challenge?

There's so many new and interesting opportunities out there to discover - but what if you don't want to join in with every new challenge?
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38 comments

  1. Hi Leanne, I actually do enjoy being in groups as I learn so much from the women I interact with. In saying that though I firmly believe that we should all do what we think is right for us rather than what others expect us to do. If not being a joiner is your thing that's fine and that should be respected. Likewise being a Joiner can be a saviour for some especially during the last year when many have been cut off because of the pandemic. I loved Hamnet but it would be a boring world if we all liked the same thing wouldn't it? #lifethisweek

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    1. Hi Sue - you're exactly right about the world being full of different people (Hamnet lovers/haters and joiners/non-joiners). I actually slightly envy those who are signing up for so many different things - but it's just not part of my psyche to do that - I seem to be more comfortable with "less" these days - maybe my brain was just too buzzed and wants some quiet time?

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  2. I am so with you on this, Leanne. I have to make sure I maintain perspective or I will say “yes” too easily. I did a “click” this January and I am making sure to put my energy in directions where I feel “right.” I still enjoy hearing about everyone else’s ventures and adventures. I don’t feel I have to join in. No one thinks less of you when you do not join, and I suspect same with me not joining. We have hundreds/thousands of options where we direct our energy. I will mull on your point about wanting to be asked. I had not thought about this. You did it to me again, Leanne....you made me think. A good thing. I like you just the way you are. You help me feel "being me" is okay, however or whenever I show up. xx

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    1. Hi Erica - what a relief to know that I'm not alone in this! I find that the further I stretch myself, the thinner I become and the more tightly wound I am. When I have a cancellation in my week I am actually a little bit relieved (even though I'm not that busy).
      I think what you say about directing our energy is right on point - my energy was drained dry a couple of years ago and I jealously guard it these days.

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  3. Nope, I go at things at my own pace. I join what I want to and at my own speed. Also, I leave when I see things I don't like (which is often). I am truly not a joiner.

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    1. I'm really awful at the leaving part Patrick - I always feel so guilty about it - so it feels easier to not join in the first place.

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  4. Hi Leanne, I can relate SO MUCH to this! I put it down to my introversion. I hate trying to make small talk too - I'd rather be one on one with someone having a really in depth conversation. I've been invited to a meetup of border collies which I thought I would love, but now I have cold feet. My social butterfly dog would probably love it but I don't think I would! I'm really o.k. in my own space, doing my own thing and enjoying the peace and quiet. Regards Christina

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    1. Hi Christina - I'm really bad at small talk too. I don't even like it when I get together with a group of women for coffee - so much chatter and I feel like I've heard a dozen half conversations but never got below the surface. Give me one decent deep conversation any day. Maybe that's why Zoom is a bit better - it's harder to talk over each other!

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  5. I totally agree. I have no problem staying in my studio and crafting away, something that a lot of people might not understand. Great post.

    Janet’s Smiles

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    1. I'd love to find a craft that engages my mind and turns out looking slightly professional Janet. I've dabbled in a few things, but never found an exact fit. I think if I did then I'd disappear into a studio for hours too - so I totally get it.

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  6. Still wanting to be invited (and not wanting to be left out) makes complete sense to me. Good thing - I know many of your friends (at least the blogging ones). We will definitely continue to invite you! :D

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    1. That's such a relief Donna - I didn't want to come across as some sort of whining hermit - it's just that I see so many people excitedly signing up for heaps of things and nothing really rings a bell for me - maybe something will tempt me down the track, or maybe I just have enough in my life already?

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  7. Leanne - I so relate to NOT being a joiner! I don't "join" anything that will pre-determine where or when I have to "be" somewhere doing something. The only thing I want to commit to is my work schedule - otherwise, I'm not likely to set up anything that requires a regular spot in my calendar.

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    1. Hi Janet - it's so nice when others get where I'm coming from - I feel like I can only handle a finite number of commitments and if I add many more into the mix I'll just want to bail on them all. Maybe that will change down the road, but for now it's just how I'm feeling and how I keep on top of things without feeling stressed or struggling.

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  8. I relate so much with the urge to not join. I enjoy my alone time so much. However, I (almost) always end up enjoying new (or old) experiences although my initial inner response is always no.

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    1. Hi Stella - I have to admit that there are a few things I've "joined" and I love them, but the idea of joining all the things on offer just does my head in. I have friends who have lots happening in their lives (esp online) but I just can't juggle that many balls anymore - give me peace and serenity any day!

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  9. I loved reading this blog. So relatable to myself. Love how you express yourself. My blogs are on LSBucklew.blogspot.com Titled Embracing the Chaos of My Journey. Would love to have you read them sometime and give me your insight. I am fairly new to blogging although I blogged several years ago. Thank you. Leslie

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    1. Hi Leslie - lovely to meet you - and I'll definitely pop over to your blog and have a read. I love connecting with new people (and you're the second new person I've met on my blog today - so that's really winning for me!) I hope to see you here again and get to know you more :)

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  10. This is me 100%. I’ve started to worry a little that once the pandemic is finally over, I won’t want to do anything outside the house!! I have more than enough to fill my days. I’ve never been a joiner and never will be. I’m finally ok with that, even if it means the invitations stop.

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    1. Hi Linda - the pandemic was a great excuse for me to quit everything and stay home all day every day (except for a morning walk and a bit of grocery shopping). I really didn't miss the social interaction at all. Fortunately we're pretty much back to normal here in Australia, but that being said, I certainly thought very carefully about each thing I re-committed to and I'm getting very good at saying no to a lot of social chit chat stuff that I just can't be bothered with anymore. Maybe I'm a Retired Introvert too!

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  11. Leanne, I actually LOL'd when I read "I still want to be invited, but I'm not coming." That is SO me! I do love to join groups from time to time, and I don't want my friends to forget about me, but I am pretty content just puttering around, doing my own thing. One of the best things about retirement is the lack of commitments. I love having a wide-open schedule. Great post!

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    1. Hi Laurie - I'm glad it gave you a smile because it did for me too. I really don't want to be left to moulder in my pjs, but I also don't want to try to be a part of every offer that comes along. My days happily meander and I have a regular commitment here and there to stop me becoming a complete hermit. I think I've just reached that point in life where the offer has to be pretty great before I accept.

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  12. I'm sorry to say I wish I had your problem. When you stated in the beginning of your post "I keep getting invited to join things" I felt like screaming at you --- be happy someone is inviting you to something! When I have someone ask me to join something - even a one-on-one wine date, I am so thankful. It happens once in awhile, but not enough even for this introvert. I wonder how you would feel if all the invitations were not there.... be thankful for them, please.

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    1. That's why I said I still want to be invited Pat - I don't want to be left to moulder on the shelf but I also don't want to join every new online class or activity that someone else thinks is great. I think I'm not that much of an online person - I spend too much time on there as it is (which is why I never signed up for Instagram or Twitter). Another blogger friend said something similar to your reply in that she has so little outside IRL contact, that she grabs anything she can to keep herself social. Here in Australia with a normal life again it's probably quite a different kettle of fish than it is for those still locked down elsewhere in the world.

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  13. Hi Leann,

    Your post has made me reflect on whether I am a joiner or not. I would say, probably not, I am definitely an introvert and like doing my own thing. That said, I love connecting with 'my tribe' - like many of the wonderful bloggers I have met over the past year. So I do join the occasional group when I think I might find my tribe. But I am also quick to disconnect when the group does not resonate.

    It's one of the reasons I started my blog and writing courses, I want to find other women like me, and I also want to connect those women with each other.

    Helen

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    1. Hi Helen - blogging has done the same thing for me too - connected me with some wonderful Midlife women who inspire me and cheer me on. I think the non-joiner thing began with all the FB groups for bloggers - where I'd join, then find there was always some underlying agenda that wasn't my cup of tea, then I'd un-join. Now I don't even bother looking for them. It's the same with a lot of the online classes - they sound good (or free) and then suddenly they want more than I'm prepared to give. And if they ask for my c/card details that's a very fast goodbye from me!

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  14. Oh Leanne... how I love this! As someone who has struggled with "fitting in" in the past, I am enamored with this idea of virtual clubs that would accept me. But like you, I now realize that "joining" is not all I thought it would be. I'm learning that I am a mood reader - and resent having to read a book because the club meeting deadline mandates it. I now know I prefer fewer online contacts with those I have real connection, than many online acquaintances. While I'm still working on saying no ... I am a pleaser at heart and I'm afraid saying no leads to disappointment ... I also realize I need to be true to me.

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    1. Hi Molly - I think not joining in the first place is easier for me than having to explain why a group isn't a good fit, and I hate leaving by sliding out the back door and feeling guilty for running away! I think I only have the capacity for a certain number of online and IRL connections and trying to participate in too much (and too large a group) just causes me stress and fatigue - and I don't need either of those things in my life these days!

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  15. Thanks for the shout out Leanne. I’m like you when it comes to joining. This is exactly the reason I chose to walk the Camino by myself. I’m really not good in groups. I’m relaxed and chirpy with up tov4 people. Any more than that and I go into myself and usually wish I’d stayed home

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    1. That's me in a nutshell Jen - I can manage a couple of couples or a small group (very small) of people I know - but put me in a larger group, or somewhere out of my comfort zone and I just close down and count the minutes til it's home time. Definitely not a social butterfly I'm afraid!

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  16. This is me in a nutshell! Maybe its more of the fear that I am not so interesting that keeps me from joining more social events. Or that I spend my workdays talking alot. I have to work on the social connection more for sure but in the meantime I am like you and love that quiet time on your own. Thanks for explaining us introverts so well :)

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    1. Hi Christine - I think I got drained so dry in my old job that I lost the ability to really pretend to care. I just can't maintain a fascinated persona while people are chattering on about stuff I'm not particularly interested in. And I also think I'm not that interesting - so why would anyone seek me out for a deeper level conversation? So I just avoid or leave early - so maybe I'll never get past the "no thanks" stage.

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  17. I'm joining more than I ever have - but am doing so without feeling that its a drag. I would have said quite openly that I'm not a joiner - I tend to get quite claustrophobic and then resentful. These days though the couple of things I've joined I'm loving and look forward to. I also love being able to say thanks for the invite but no, not this time. Mostly though I love how we can all have a different perspective on one thing and how that doesn't matter.

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    1. Hi Jo - I see you as much brighter and more conversational than I am. I really struggle in larger groups and can really only maintain a very limited amount of social contact in my week before I feel like I want to cancel and stay home. It's not that I'm not a joiner of anything - more that I'm very choosy about what I invest my time and mental energy into these days - and joining every group that pops up just gives me the horrors!

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  18. Interesting perspective Leanne and I value your words here. We are not "all" joiners but we would still like to be asked! I am choosy but also like to be asked and now, if something suits me, I may go or be part of it. I am now learning soooo much more about valuing my time for me. In fact it's more precious than even now I do not "have" to do or be so much. I have a post brewing about "volunteering" and will share that soon. A LOT of pressure put on us at retirement to do that!!

    Thank you for linking up your blog post for #lifethisweek on Monday 22 Feb 2021. Next week, it's the first optional prompt of Taking Stock where I am using my own prompts for the first time. Hope to see you there, on or off prompt. Take care, Denyse #lifethisweek #linkup #Australia

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    1. Hi Denyse - I tend to go with the "one thing" approach - I volunteer for one thing, belong to one online group, do one coffee date a week, one exercise class a week..... once I start adding to that it becomes really busy and my brain starts spinning and wanting to cancel and stay home where it's quiet. So now, I just say no before it gets to that stage - it takes something pretty special to make it "two of something" in any given week!

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  19. Hi Leanne, this was an interesting post and the commenters seem to agree with you to some degree. It's good that we're all different and see the world through different perspectives, it makes for a lot of variety otherwise it would be fairly boring I think. I for one am a joiner and proud of it, I like to be involved, it makes me feel connected and engaged and after being made redundant from my job, I miss that social side of my life. My various groups and volunteer work in the local community, plus blogging, give me a sense of purpose that I was missing. I am getting to be bold enough that I can say no thanks, politely of course, without feeling too much guilt at doing so. I am happy for you that you have discovered this part of yourself and can be open and honest about your feelings. #lifethisweek

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    1. Hi Deb - I think I should maybe call myself a "Minimalist Joiner" - where I have a certain number of things I participate in and then I have to draw the line. I am a little in awe of those who can juggle dozens of commitments, but after my burn out and rebuild of the last couple of years, I seem to have a much more limited capacity for "noise" and social engagement. I do enjoy seeing what others are doing though (and the awards they're winning in the process!)

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Thanks so much for your comment - it's where the connection begins.