If you’re not one, you won’t get it. You’ll look at those of us who are and think we’re weird. Or shy. Or nervous. Or snobby, rude, elitist, cliquey…
We’re those strange creatures who live on the very edge of your social circle and confuse everyone inside. We’re the people you look at and think, “Gee, she’s so comfortable! She’s so friendly and outgoing!” when inside we’re shrivelling up and dying to get home to a good book and some silence. We work very hard to give you the impression we’re comfortable, you know.
Look, I’m friendly. I like a lot of people, and I know hundreds of them. I’ve got a community of acquaintances that could fill my city’s town hall, but I have only a handful of friends. (And I’ve got small hands, so you know that’s not many people.) I’ve got a best friend who lives far, far away, and sucks just as much as I do with communication, so we see each other about twice a year and email maybe quarterly.
Being an introvert was really difficult for me growing up. My mother is an extreme extrovert: she gains energy from being around other people, she’s a great small-talker, and lives to be around others. I’m the polar opposite and I think she saw my introverted nature as something to fix. I was forced into public speaking, I was pushed (mostly gently) from behind into sandboxes to introduce myself to other kids, I was “encouraged” to do all the things that scared the everliving daylights out of me, all because my parents thought it was “for the best”. And I guess I should thank them because I’ve managed to successfully stuff my uncomfortable feelings down inside me in order to attend events and meet new people…
But, see, I’m not broken and I don’t need fixing. What I need are people who really get me.
As an introvert, I find personal interactions exhausting. Being at networking events feels like a giant straw is inserted into my head to suck my will to live from me. Parties, large crowds, public spaces: I’d rather not, thankyouverymuch. Small gatherings with people I’m comfortable around are much more my speed, but even then, I’m happiest at home with my family. This means that no, I don’t “do” mommy groups with my kids. I don’t willingly go to get-togethers with the girls from the web boards I’m on. I don’t actively try to get together with friends. And I’m honestly, truly not lonely spending the majority of my time alone.
It’s gotten to the point where when I make new friends, I feel I need to offer the disclaimer that yes, I like you, but I also prefer being alone and communicating from over here, behind my monitor.
So this time? It really is about me, not you.
I like you, from over here.