In the past, I always felt like a sort of introvert/extrovert halfbreed, where my general disposition depended on the day. However, it seems like age (and the general “don’t give a shit” attitude that comes with it) has forced me to embrace my introversion. I started to notice this in the last couple of years; there I’d be, surrounded by extroverted friends and just feeling so drained. It was as though they kept wanting me to be more like them, and when I failed at it, I would just feel tired. I am not the life of the party; I would rather just one-on-one with you. I don’t enjoy mingling at a bar. I get a little annoyed when I arrive somewhere expecting 2 people and there are 6.
Unfortunately, the world likes extroverts. If I say to someone, “hey, a little heads up about there being 6 people rather than 2 would have been nice,” suddenly, I’m The Girl Who Doesn’t Like Meeting New People. I’m this horrible, unwelcoming person who hates the new friends you wanted me to meet when I really just would have preferred to meet them one at a time. In some subconscious bid to leech off someone else’s outgoing nature, I’ve dated several extroverted guys. The end result would usually be me feeling tired, gray, drained and like I just wasn’t enough of whatever they were looking for. And they would spend their lives being frustrated when I would roll my eyes at the idea of going to yet another club night.
“Everybody’s going to be there!” they would say, not realizing that one man’s selling point is another man’s deal breaker.
The world likes extroverts. Even the internet, once the home away from home for people who don’t like to mingle, has become a place where it seems like everyone is just trying to prove how much funnier/smarter/more outrageous they are than everyone else. It becomes a cacophony of nothing. It becomes a place where “tl;dr” is expression that actually exists and a hipstamatic photo is considered a perfectly valid replacement for actual communication. It doesn’t matter if you have nothing to say, so long as you say it loudly, repeatedly and possibly with a witty jpeg. I used to think that it made me feel weird and sad because I was getting older and couldn’t relate; now, I just think it’s a matter of general personality difference. Everything moves so quickly now that I find myself preferring to type rather than talk. When you type, there’s no rush to find words before you get interrupted.
Saturday saw me hanging out with a friend and another friend of hers. She dances, he’s in a band, and I felt like I was tagging along as the old/boring/quiet/lame friend. Nobody really did or said anything to make me feel that way; I just felt it. It gave me flashbacks of when I once dated someone who felt perfectly free to accuse me of having no hobbies. It was as though my hobbies didn’t exist in his mind because they didn’t result in being on a stage or presenting some object. What was the point in doing something with your spare time if you could not, at the end of the day, present it to the world and expect praise? Your band is wonderful! Your object is wonderful! Look at this THING! This thing I MADE! When we finally broke up, I found that I liked my hobbies so much more without him there to imply that they were lame.
I have lots of hobbies. If I had more time, I’d have even more of them. In the battle between things I’d like to try and time, time is definitely the department in which I am lacking. However, none of them are “cool.” None of them are things you’d use to introduce me at a party. It’s not, “this is Amy, she’s a semi-pro kick boxer.” It’s “this is Amy, she has a couple of cats, a way with a metaphor, and she likes reading books about psychology.” Try yelling that over the music in a bar. It just doesn’t have much “zang.”
Sunday, while waiting for Male Suitor to finish his post-work shower, I picked through his bookshelf. There, between “How to Become the CEO” and “Why do Men Have Nipples?” I found a book on the power of introverts in business. When he got out of the shower, I was a couple of pages into the nipple book, finding out why asparagus makes pee smell funny. (I figured that I could always just borrow the introvert book later.) During brunch, I asked whether he’d ever been made to feel like his hobbies were somehow not good enough, not exciting enough, not whatever enough for other people. This was a sort of follow-up to an earlier discussion about us both choosing careers that were hinged more on ability to do the job well than ability to mingle, and about how he’d had to make a decision to accept and appreciate his introversion, rather than wishing he could be someone else.
I am still working on that last bit. When I go days without talking to anyone, something in my head still starts going, “is something wrong? are we depressed? is this A SIGN?” Then I just answer back, “I don’t think so. I don’t feel sad. I just feel…quiet.