Is this a rite of passage once you’ve left your early twenties? To feel exhausted from talking to almost every single person on this planet? To have always thought you were an extrovert, a Super Outgoing Person Who Loves To Have Fun – and then one day you wake up and small talk actually feels physically painful? And the thought of speaking to someone for longer than four minutes makes your brain just want to close its own eyes?
When I am on the train now, and I watch two people recognize each other and say hello, I am overcome with a rush of gratitude over the fact that I am not one of them. I am thankful that I can sit and watch them struggle to come up with stuff to say but that I don’t have to be part of it. And when I am one of them – when I am sitting on the bus and happily staring out the window and then someone I kind-of-know-but-not-super-well-but-it-would-be-weird-if-we-didn’t-acknowledge-each-other gets on the bus, I feel immediately tired, because I know that these next eight minutes will be long and draining and I will need two hours to recover from speaking to an acquaintance who was perfectly nice, friendly, and engaging.
It’s exhausting, being this exhausted.
I don’t know why this happens, either. If I get stuck talking to someone who sucks, then sure, I’m entitled to feel as depleted as I want.
But most of the time, this happens with people that I really, really like. And when I say, “It’s great to see you!” I really mean it. And when we’re laughing together, it’s almost always genuine, even if the authenticity of the laugh is coming from the fact that we’re both uncomfortable with this social interaction but we like each other personally and so this whole thing is silly and we laugh.
So why then? Why do I find it all so draining and exhausting and the worst, if most of these interactions are with people I like and enjoy and actually want to listen to?
Maybe it’s because I just want to skip all the niceties and talk to them the way I talk to my siblings – unfiltered, honest, silly, straightforward, odd, me. To say funny stuff and interesting stuff and amusing stuff to each other and then to just stop talking once we’re no longer interested in talking. Maybe I just want to be like that, but I feel like I can’t immediately be that person with them. Maybe that’s it. I don’t know. I think it’s that I don’t want to be the social and polite ‘me.’ I just want to be the ‘me’ that I am with the people I’m closest to in the world. And these exhausting little daily interactions are just a reminder that I’ll never feel that way with everyone.