For What It's Worth

For What It's Worth

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Review: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan



What would happen if a shy introvert lived like a gregarious extrovert for one year? If she knowingly and willingly put herself in perilous social situations that she’d normally avoid at all costs? Writer Jessica Pan intends to find out. With the help of various extrovert mentors, Jessica sets up a series of personal challenges (talk to strangers, perform stand-up comedy, host a dinner party, travel alone, make friends on the road, and much, much worse) to explore whether living like an extrovert can teach her lessons that might improve the quality of her life. Chronicling the author’s hilarious and painful year of misadventures, this book explores what happens when one introvert fights her natural tendencies, takes the plunge, and tries (and sometimes fails) to be a little bit braver. ~ Goodreads

Source: Hoopla – audiobook

Review: If ever a book title described my personality and life – it would be this one. I am such an introvert and will avoid social gatherings like the plague.

So when I saw Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come on Hoopla – it spoke to me. Then I read the synopsis and was a little hesitant since it’s about author Jessica Pan pushing herself out of her comfort zone to be more extroverted. I hate when people try to push introverts. I get – oh just go – you’ll have fun once you’re there! a lot. I, in fact, do not have fun about 99% of the time. I pretend to have fun and then become a hermit for the next week as I try to recharge from the stress of the encounter.

Pan makes it pretty clear right at the start that she’s not trying to *fix* anyone. She has been happy being an introvert for most of her life but after a move abroad (to the UK), with her husband, she found herself limited by it. And I get that too. I have many a phobia in addition to being an introvert and it does hold me back at times. And I have pushed myself sometimes. Like going to BEA. My love of books and desire to meet a few of my online book friends was enough to push me to fly, meet up with strangers and navigate a conference in NYC. I did it the introverts way of course – I skipped all parties and social gatherings, mostly stuck with my husband and one or two other people and stayed in at night to recharge.

The point is – you can be a happy introvert and you can also be an introvert that needs a nudge if you’re missing out on things you love because of it.

The author takes on various challenges to push herself out of her comfort zone. She starts small, initiating small talk, using a friendship app (similar to dating apps, but to find friends) to have friend dates and then really pushes the envelope by taking on things like stand up comedy and improv.

The first half was something I SO related to. The sweaty palms, the excuses (& yes, lies you tell) to get out of things that require interaction, the hiding in the bathroom for deep breaths before you put yourself out there, preferring to interact with just one or two people rather than large groups.

Pan consults with a few experts to help her with coping mechanisms and ways to engage in meaningful conversations, talk in front of people and it was all relatable. Things changed for me though as she took on the greater challenges of improv and stand up comedy.

Pan mentions early on that she had read that Beyonce has panic attacks before performing and that means nothing to her because Beyonce then goes on to put on kick ass performances so Beyonce couldn’t possibly have the level of anxiety that she has.

Well, that’s how I felt about Pan. While these tasks are clearly uncomfortable for her – she does them – successfully - and without melting down. For me, this felt like another case of people saying – SEE! Just put yourself out there! You’ll be fine! I’m really happy for her and that she was able to perform in public and enjoy it but I would (& have) literally passed out/vomited when pushed beyond my comfort zone but she never has those sorts of attacks. I’d really love for someone to write about and overcome that. lol

There are different types of introverts. Both Kevin & I are introverted and can go weeks without seeing other people or talking to anyone. But Kevin can give presentations or talk in large groups if necessary. I can’t. I truly relate to that title – “I didn’t want to come”. Not just because of stress but because I just don't care about being around people lol.

But you soon discover that while Pan is an introvert. She’s lonely and craves human interaction. To the point that once she cracked that code to being more extroverted she would talk to anyone and push them out of their comfort zones just so she can have a meaningful interaction. It was honestly cringe worthy at times. For someone who understands how debilitating it is to talk to strangers to then push others as if she’s helping them pissed me off.

While the first half of the book was filled with anecdotes that all introverts can see themselves in, the second half of the book felt more like someone looking for meaning in her life. She DOES want to go to things – she’s just nervous about it and needed more confidence. The book became less about being an introvert and more about having every encounter, every excursion to have a deeper meaning and be perfect. Which is fine but that’s really a different subject.

I listened to this on audio and the author did an excellent job narrating. She had a great conversational style that felt like you were hanging with a friend.

If you find any of this relatable or want an example of someone who was able to overcome many of her fears then this would be a great read. It wasn’t 100% what I was hoping for but I did enjoy it overall. 

Has anyone read any books about introverts where they weren’t trying to get fixed or kind of embrace being an introvert?

26 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this, I think I’d like to read it.

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    1. Not all of it was relatable to me but it was good!

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  2. I hear you. I mean, I'm not what you would call an introvert, and I would love to go places and meet people if my situation at home permitted, but in many instances, I can't go past my confort zone. There are lots of things I'm afraid of...for instance, I hate to make phone calls to people I don't know. I find myself coming up with scripts for certain social situations (like meeting with a doctor or, you know, arguing with my boss 🙄 😉) and imagining any possible outcome, so I'm as prepared as I can be. So I get what you're saying - there are certain levels of social anxiety that can't be overcome, also because no matter how well you perform the first time, you will always be scared to do it again. So, maybe the book above can help someone overcome their fears, but it does sound like the second part dismisses those fears as well...which isn't nice (or realistic, since not everyone can do what the author did, at least without suffering and stressing out madly).

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    1. I think everyone has their own limits varying degrees of it. I'm glad she was able to overcome it because she was clearly limited by it and ready to push herself but I found it so hard to understand her at times.

      Like the improv or stand up - she was nervous but was able to get through it without any type of setback. (some of her stand up bombed later but that's always the case for most comics and she was outgoing even in that). I found that so difficult to relate to.

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  3. I just don't really want to interact with people in real life! I can go places and talk to people in shops if I'm buying something. I'm polite when I interact but frankly I don't really want the human contact! I'm happy at home doing my own thing thank you!

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    1. I'm with you. I'm fine the way I am. It is limiting at times but perfectly happy not interacting with people. I'm happier that way and that's not fear - it's preference.

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  4. I'm a bit of introverted and extroverted. I had really bad social anxiety growing up, so I've gotten better with that and I like doing certain things now. HOWEVER, I still understand not wanting to be around large groups of people and needing time by yourself to recharge and all of that. It sounds like the book definitely took a turn that most introverts aren't going to be interested in. It seems like the author has more anxiety about things, than actually being an introvert.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. That's how I felt. She definitely prefers smaller groups but she loves and craves social interaction. The book is still valuable but harder for me to relate to when it's coming from that perspective.

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  5. I haven't read this but I'm an introvert so it makes me curious about it.

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  6. I read so much of myself in your review. I will read this but I likely won't change my ways. I need a week or two to recharge when I'm forced into unwanted social interactions. I know I should try to overcome it but I never, ever feel as if I had a good time once I've left a party I didn't want to attend. My husband is an extrovert so I am forced into these situations and it is never fun for me.

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    1. Exactly. I truly don't care to be there. I don't feel like I'm missing out if I don't go or that I feel better once I did and overcame it.

      I can see why some people are missing out on things and want to push themselves but that person isn't me lol

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  7. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I'm a HUGE introvert so I think I could definitely relate. I have absolutely no desire to be more extroverted though. XD

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    1. I think it's hugely relatable to introverts or people with social anxieties. I'm the same - I'm quite happy how I am.

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  8. I love that title, that fairly accurately describes my feelings about certain social functions lol. I'm an introvert too and the thought of doing stand up comedy- um, no! That has to be like the ultimate "put yourself out there" thing! And yeah, I don't mind being introverted. We are what we are, right? Like some of the other commenters have said, I think I too would relate a lot more to the first half of the book. I don't really have an interest in changing my introverted-ness at this point. I think I would probably agree with your review completely if I read this.

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    1. I was curious how someone could go from introvert to stand up comedy. I just...could never. I'v ehad to do public speaking a few times and I crashed and burned lol

      I do think she was an introvert in some ways (she prefers small groups and to time alone) but she really craved that interaction in a way I do not and was hard to relate to.

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  9. Hooo this is interesting. I am one of those introverts who often gets mistaken as an extrovert because when I go I usually have fun. But I don't want anyone to push me to go except myself otherwise as a principle I tend to get stubborn and not go. And if I have enough or I am tired I have to leave and yeah - I also tend to really get exhausted from big outings and social groups. I feel like your kind of introvert is pretty underrepresented and I am sorry this book couldn't be that for you :/

    Olivia-S @ Olivia's Catastrophe

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    1. I think there are levels. And I also think you can be an extroverted introvert and just need down time to recharge. Or have situations you can't cope with.

      I think my bigger issue with the book was that the second half was about something else - more about genuine connections and seeking that elusive happiness and not so much about being an introvert.

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  10. This sounds great (and on Hoopla, score). I was painfully shy and introverted as a child and young teen, and then I got put in the wrong gym class in my sophomore year with seniors and three of them nabbed me as sort of a pet and dragged me around with them. I've always been thankful for that mix up. I don't think I would have been able to have all my music adventures if they hadn't f orced me out into the world. 😇

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    1. I can go places but I have to be able to have an escape lol and exist on the fringe of things.

      Like, I know a lot of people who hate NYC because of all the crowds and think I wouldn't be able to handle it as an introvert but I LOVE the energy and don't mind a tall. because no one is really bothering with me. I would much rather have that than a small intimate gathering with people I know who will make me talk to them lol

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  11. I hate it when people push introverts. I'm also introverted but people struggle to believe it sometimes as I'm one of those who can present in front of a large crowd, will be super friendly and chatty (when amongst "my people") and can generally put on a good show when I'm needed to... BUT I HATE IT. I need to be by myself. I love being at home. I don't have much patience for small talk. People in general exhaust me.
    Most of my friends get that and I think appreciate the effort it takes for me to leave the house to go on "girls nights" or work nights out. Generally, I'm okay once out but other times I just "perform" until I can go home again and curl up...
    I wish more people were understanding (or even aware) of what being an introvert actually means. :/

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    1. I do REALLY well at book conferences because I feel like we're all introverts in a way?? And we seem to sense when something is too much and leave the person alone and give space. Maybe, that's the key - respecting boundaries. So you could go somewhere but feel free to tap out when it's too much and come back if you wanted.

      I RARELY have fun when I'm pushed. I like to say it's more like I survived it lol

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  12. The second paragraph of your review is something I could have written myself. I loathe people (extroverts usually) who feel the need to push introverts into socializing or just getting out of the comfort zone. Uh, you go worry about you. And leave me alone. Because I'm not sitting around waiting to be encouraged to "put myself out there." I hate putting myself out there, thank you very much. And when I do, I (like you) then have to recover from the experience. Gah! My husband is quite the extrovert, has no issue being in social situations or being front and center, and I often use him as my shield in social situations. He's my front man. LOL

    It sounds like the latter part of the book really veered into something else entirely, though.

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    1. My parents were so outgoing and they really thought I just needed to get over myself and go to whatever. Once I got there I would realize it wasn't a big deal and have fun. But I never did. It's just not my thing to make small talk or engage in group activities.

      Like I said, Kevin is an introvert too but can more like he'd rather be home without people but he can interact. I come off as a total bitch lol

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