I learned more about myself during about fifteen minutes in the YA room at Hollingworth than I usually do in a year. Expectedly, it's very hard to put something like that into words, but I'll try anyway.
First of all, a totally new situation is always bound to cause change. Being in the local majority, instead of being one in a hundred thousand or so, definitely qualifies as a new situation. Being thoroughly trained (by society) to be an introvert, I was at first uncomfortable, even in a room of actual peers. I generally just listened to what other people were saying, and spent some of the rest of my idle brain power calculating some 1-dimensional binary fractals. It wasn't that I doubted that I fit in far more than normal...it simply wasn't something I was used to. Though lots of anecdotes seem to suggest that an HG+ kid introduced into an environment of like peers will just suddenly blossom into a very extroverted social person, that simply wasn't the case. It takes quite a lot of effort to break down social walls constructed over more than a decade...especially if such walls were appreciated by the majority of society. However, I'm pretty sure that just one trip to a YA session (and I use the term "session" loosely, as anyone there would understand) was able to radically change my approach to society.
I am generally uncomfortable around anyone I didn't know very well. Even people who were fairly good friends could make me a bit uncomfortable...I really have to know a lot about people before I can begin to be comfortable around them. If an extrovert (of almost any form) suddenly starts talking to me in, for instance, an elevator, I'm caught totally off guard. I usually manage to mumble a few general responses. I like dealing with very controlled situations...where I know how a person will react to certain types of statements, etc. This is rather impossible with strangers, and I've only found it easy in a generally anonymous situation, such as when typing over the internet. School, which is a situation where I'm surrounded by hundreds of people I hardly know (who probably have no idea how someone like me works), was hell, as one would expect. I had virtually no social life for two obvious reasons. One, considerably few people wanted to actually talk to me. Two, I didn't particularly want to talk with the majority of the people there. Furthermore, those two facts magnified each other quite a bit. my introvertedness probably drove away some people, and the lack of people talking to me encouraged me to be an introvert even more.
Now, please disregard everything I've said above. I think Hollingworth changed it all.
(You begin to get an idea of just how much it was able to affect me, if not entirely how.)
I myself am still not entirely sure how my perspective could've been changed so drastically. (For that matter, I'm not entirely sure that it was...I haven't thoroughly field tested my belief that I've changed a lot. But I'm pretty sure I did.) It wasn't that there was an incredible amount of stuff said in the YA room...it was simply the right stuff. It could probably be pinned down as just a few select sentences.
It's one thing to hear people talk about how some kid changed. It's a similar thing for someone to email me and tell me about how they went through a certain change two decades ago. It's a completely different thing to discuss it with people who are in the middle of all the problems themselves...even if people in all three examples say the same thing.
One thing that was made very clear was the fact that much of my introvertedness was directly (if not indirectly) my own fault. Only once we were talking about it in the young adult room was I aware just how much trouble my own shyness caused me. And I think I changed right there.
There was, no doubt, quite a bit more that happened in the YA room which simply isn't on the front burner of my brain at the moment. I'll have to remember it / think about it / write about it some other time.
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