So What If I’m Introverted?

First of all, thank you for your concern.

I can understand that it seems unfathomable to you, I understand that you might be worried that I’m only rationalizing. I know that it really is an important and vital part of life. I know that you feel that I am missing out.

But this is who I am. I cannot expect you to understand me fully, after all, we are from different worlds. You– a beautiful, social creature who delights in the company of your countless friends, you whose only criterion of a Facebook friendship is that you’ve talked to them at least once. (Really? Just once and that’s all it takes for them to be privy to your personal albeit controlled thoughts and memories?) You, who cannot stay in your house for too long without feeling cooped up.

And there’s me. Well. Let’s just say my world is much smaller than yours.

I like staying in my house and playing with my dog the entire weekend. I like to eat lunch alone every now and then. I’m comfortable in a nightie curled up on a chair and reading a book or lurking on the internet even though it’s only 6pm and I could very well be out and about instead.

No, I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

I hope you understand that I try. It’s just that when I force myself out of my little world the territory I breach is terrifying to me. It makes my heart pound fast in my ears. It makes my face flush and my hands flutter. It makes me stutter and stammer and lose all semblance of wit and eloquence. When I say something, hours or even days later I still would mouth the words to myself over and over, reliving the situation, worrying if it had been the right thing to say. Merely saying hi to an acquaintance I meet on the street requires a struggle, an internal debate. It’s not accurate to say I’m shy. People I don’t know make me anxious. People I do know make me exhausted.

But I still always try. I fight that battlefield every day and sometimes it yields something great. Sometimes it doesn’t yield anything. When the days end, I love coming home, bruised and sore, to my little world and its simplicity, and that’s what I delight in. My simplest of joys. My safe house. My own.

It’s not like I dislike people. I dislike crowds, I dislike parties, I loathe parlor games, I dislike unexpected, unpremeditated social interactions. But people I like. I like to laugh with them, talk with them, hear their stories.  I love having an intimate group of friends to have inside jokes with, I like it when everyone is in the same conversation. I like to go places and meet people. I love to be of help to people. I want people to like me. Unfortunately I am like an old battery and I get drained pretty easily. Once in a while – well, a little more than once in a while – I need to detach, I need to charge, I need to recover. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I have some confessions to make as well. I’ve learned that I’m not immune to being lonely. I always remember that one night that my small world, usually warm and bright, trapped me in a cold, dark, lonely place. I told you I was sad, and that I felt everyone else had somewhere to go except me. You told me to go meet new people and I angrily typed out the words to you. I don’t want new people. I want the people I already have. 

I also have to confess that the only time I feel like I’m missing out is when it involves you. Your smile is so much wider, your laugh louder, your eyes brighter when you’re surrounded by people. Your world is so big, your arms so open, your life so fast-paced and exciting. And when you’re at your best and brightest like this, I always wish I was part of it. I wish you could take me to parties, looking debonair and beautiful, where I hold my own and make jokes and shake people’s hands and strike up conversations with strangers, instead of clinging desperately onto your arm for dear life. I wish I could do you proud. I wish you didn’t have to leave me home while you go on adventures.

So I hope you understand why I don’t go searching for more groups to join, or staying out late with friends, or filling up my social schedule to the brim. I need the time off to build up the strength and confidence to catch up with you, as effortless as it may seem to you. You’re the sun and I’m the moon, I can’t compete with your light but I can reflect it, and produce my own small shine.

I refuse to believe our differences are irreconcilable, in fact I’ve seen that we need each other. I need you to hold my hand and pull me out, guide me through the brambles of the complex outside world. I need you to assuage my fears, to support me. And in return when your battery finally runs out and you’re a fugitive running from the pressures of being you, I will open my door to you. We will be quiet and calm and uncomplicated together.  We will be alone.

In the meantime, don’t worry about me. Go on and go out into the world and I’ll see you when you get back. I’ll be perfectly fine. TC mark

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image – Angelo González

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