I wouldn’t say I struggle with depression, but more so an intense introversion. Since I was a young child, I have always loved to think. To sit around and ponder, read a book, observe my surroundings. In turn, this has made me jaded towards the “normalcy” of mankind. It has bred a rejection to said norms. My introversion straddles on the precipice of extroversion. It scares me somewhat. I am introverted in a unique fashion. I guess I would identify myself as a hermit who loves a social gathering. But really, in all terms of interacting with society, I have always preferred to sit back, analyze, go at my own pace, and create my own path.
Maybe this derives from my own fears, I am sure part of it does. There is no action without motivation, and no motivation without fear. Yet, my introversion is different. It always has been. I stay at home and write and also do freelance film work. Yes, I actually just accepted a ‘real’ job as a full-time personal marketing and admin assistant because, I gotta eat (and also it will be insanely fun). But I still struggle with this notion of being a “busy body.”
The thing that confuses me in this day and age is that people glorify introversion yet prefer extroversion. It is so cool to be a recluse, to not prefer people, to stay at home in the company of yourself. Yet, our society also frowns upon this. We are spoon-fed this idea that we must work 40 hours a week to afford a life that is designed for us. By designed, I mean, this “social” life is planned as a means of monetary gain for someone other than yourself.
I read an article awhile back that described how the 40-hour workweek is a deception to get people to spend money on lifestyle and entertainment. You spend your days at a desk, in an office, around co-workers and either hating or loving your job. You take an hour lunch break. You get off work at 6 p.m. Enjoy dinner; watch TV; maybe a happy hour to forget your less-than-happy job. The weekends are free, which also means more spending on entertainment. Hopefully, you get my gist, but if not, read the article here.
In short, this social norm of working all day and spending at night is so engrained in us that maybe this is why our generation has started to prefer this kind of introverted, unique lifestyle. We realize something is not right. No, I do not want to sit in traffic for two hours. No, I do not want to wear nice, uncomfortable clothes just to sit at a desk all day. No, I do not want to capitalize on making money just to spend it on unnecessary material possessions until my inevitable death. Does this make me lazy?
At times, I feel my peers would say yes. I prefer to come into my mornings. Reading a few chapters of a book, writing some poetry, and enjoying my coffee. I do video work as a means to pay my bills. I write articles to relay my messages, to keep the fire of my passion burning. I have goals for myself, I have dreams and desires. But my means of achieving this is not in wearing the mask of everyone else. I envision a successful future. I am willing to put in the hard work, to do what it takes. But surrendering my soul to something I hate, never. While I’m not sitting at a desk every day, I am still contributing, but this makes me not normal, this makes me weird, even unmotivated.
As essentially “free” citizens, aren’t we allowed the option to choose our own lifestyle? I would not say that my introversion/lifestyle prevents me from inspiring and touching people in some way. I’m not saying that introversion is only glorified because as a young generation, we are seeking something different. I’m saying, why do I find the need to validate my existence to my busier friends? Why do I feel that I have to wear nice clothes in public so that I will not be judged by my coffee shop lifestyle? Why?
This could just be my disposition as a person. As stated, my introversion is unique. I am also way too self-aware, and will admit, I am somewhat of a people-pleaser. I can’t help that it’s my nature. But, why do I feel that I do lesser than say, someone who types up financial reports all day? They are helping a company. A faceless phantom-man that they have no real connection to. But typing up spreadsheets on Excel day in and day out gives them a purpose. It gives them a reason to look down on me for not relinquishing my soul to evil corporations. For choosing my own unconventional lifestyle.
I do not look back on the decision I have made to craft my own lifestyle. I have worked a 9-5. I have hated it. I have seen how people are herded into their sunless cubicle and worked like animals to afford things they are told they need. Slowly turning into a shell of a person who swallows their real dreams for the dreams of society. I despise the system. I quit with an aching in my soul for something different and the knowledge that it was possible.
Now I sit here, typing these words and pondering what my purpose is. I feel touched when readers send me reader-mail. I feel pleased when the company I freelance for loves my marketing videos. I feel pleased when I DO find a full-time job that still instills the creative freedom I so desperately crave. Basically, I think it’s okay to be who I am. At times, I feel ashamed of my lifestyle. I become awkward and flustered when the grocery store clerk asks me if I just got off work. I simply nod, because explaining that my best work happens late at night would just take too long. I look at women in business suits, realizing they are the same age as me. They snarl at me in my jeans and flowy top as I pump gas, pondering why I envy them yet simultaneously pity them. I often wonder if they wonder how I afford anything.
It is not just “introverts” who question the norms. Some of the greatest offbeat personalities were extreme extroverts. Some of the hardest working CEOs are introverts. It’s merely a question of identifying the change in validating a lifestyle. I feel a switch in the norm. I can feel it in the air like a slow shift in seasons. I can see it in the hungry eyes of those like me, crafting their own way, whilst simultaneously receiving criticism for not drinking the postgrad Kool-Aid. If we are the generation to challenge the norm, to change and inspire, why do I feel as if I’m still judged by my peers for choosing a lifestyle that so embodies this very notion?