One thing that I learned while on my long journey through space and time was that I am not necessarily as strange as I think I am, or as strange as some people perceive me to be.
I have lived most of my life in the shadow of my extroverted, Type A mother and brother, and a lot of people on my mom's side of the family are the same way. I have lived most of my life under the assumption that I am supposed to be like them, always looking and acting a certain way, and being comfortable in the spotlight.
One thing I remember from my long vacation was when my sister-in-law, Sunny, asked me if I wanted to go to a Zumba class that was being taught by her friend. I was a little apprehensive, because I am pretty physically uncoordinated, but I agreed to go. Later Sunny told me that she was glad I was going, because if she had to go by herself she probably wouldn't go. She told me that she often gets nervous about joining a class, when she's not going to know anyone, especially if it is a class where you have to try to do something that you have no idea how to do... like Zumba! That was pretty much exactly how I felt. And knowing that I wasn't the only one who felt that way, I was able to relax and have more fun.
I also found that, even though in a group of 5 or more people I am very likely to stay quiet and not say a word, when I am with just 1 or 2 other people who I feel comfortable with, I can actually be very chatty and even witty! I am most likely to be in this chatty mood when I am with people I already know well, such as Sunny or Auntie M or Uncle J, but I can also get into that mood when I meet someone new who I feel comfortable with right away, such as Sunny's sister, some of Sunny's friends who came over to visit, or my aunt and uncle's friend who went hiking with us one day.
And then there are people who I know very well, who I will never feel completely comfortable with. Sadly, one of those people is my Bro. Although I love him and even look up to him (despite the fact that he is my younger brother by 2 years) I know that he is very likely to say something to put me down or criticize me, something that will hurt my feelings. It is like spending time with someone who is being reasonably nice to you, but who you know is apt to unexpectedly poke you in the stomach with a fork at any moment. You are constantly watching them, putting yourself on guard, always ready for that sharp pain in your gut, a pain that hurts twice as bad when it is delivered by someone you love.
I am like this around my mom, as well. It is difficult to be around people who you know can and will hurt you. They often don't even know they're doing it... they think of themselves as people who "say it like it is" or "don't hold back."
Around people I don't know well, I tend to be like this most of the time, quiet and watching. If someone scolds me or embarrasses me, I will shut down even more. But when I feel safe around someone, then I am actually a pretty cool person to hang out with!