I wasn’t always like this, but I am now.
Let me walk you through various examples of what it’s like to be introverted (my version of introverted, which is not being shy, is not being awkward, is not shrinking away from human interaction like it is the plague).
I am out by myself at a coffee shop. I am standing in a long line with lots of people who are standing in this line. I do not have headphones in. I am not looking at my feet with the intensity of a lab scientist, head completely down, arms crossed and hugging my torso. I am probably looking straight ahead, trying to keep a neutrally supportive look on my face, so that–if the baristas are doing a good job despite the crowd–the employees know I am not blaming them for anything. If I have a lot going on, I am probably talking to myself, out loud, which I do often. Let’s say someone in front of or behind me notices and either responds or laughs. I will, in kind, have a short conversation with them, or laugh at myself with them. I will smile and be friendly. But once that small exchange is over, I will go back to my own thoughts. If the person who engaged with me is physically attractive, I will probably think about how I should maybe keep engaging with them, and I will probably only think about it, and not do it; eventually, I will go back to my own thoughts, or I will scold myself for the rest of the day.
Or let’s say I’m having a conversation with an intimate, and he mentions a band I was obsessed with from ages 8-18. In my head, it goes like this, “He just mentioned Blink-182. God damn, I loved Blink-182. Maybe I should say that. Wait–it’s been at least 5 seconds of silence since he said it during which I was thinking about the fact that he said that. Has it been too long for me to say I love Blink-182 now? Maybe he’ll think I don’t mean it, because I would’ve said it right away if I had. Or wait–why would he even care if I loved Blink-182? Is that an interesting thing about me? Then again, what are interesting things about me? That’s a least a common interest, so it should be shared. Right? Holy shit, I’ve been silent this time.” Etc. It’s not that I don’t want to share my love for Blink-182, it’s just that I have to think about it before I share it. I have to think about everything before anything happens. That is being introverted, for me.
Maybe I have a questionable health circumstance–nothing serious, not much known yet, potentially nothing at all (although potentially the opposites of all those things). I do my own stupid internet research, panic for 30 minutes, forget about it for the next 3 days. I am around my closest friends all weekend, so I could tell them. I think about telling them. I don’t because of many reasons: I don’t want them to worry about anything, and I don’t want to talk about it if I don’t know what I’m talking about yet, and I don’t want to bring all the attention to myself for the time we’re hanging out. I want to hear about them, and I want them to have fun, and I want to have fun, and talking about medical things doesn’t seem to be a good way to spend that time. I think of other friends I could tell, family members with whom I should compare, people who would want to know simply because them knowing means they know me. At the end of the day, I think I will tell them if I need to, when I need to tell them.
I was not always like this, but maybe I was, and I definitely am now.
(featured image via arimneste)