When the World Lets You Be a Reclusive Introvert… and You’re Still Not Happy

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Image Source: Elizabeth Gray @thegraytergood

Understanding introversion has become quite fashionable in recent years. Ted Talks and cute little illustrations abound on social media, pinned and posted by introverts who felt persecuted their whole lives for being deducted five participation points in English class.

 

We introverts have now transformed into demigods that live outside of the confines of social life: heroes who don’t need humans, intellectuals who use wine to unleash their creativity rather than to get wasted. We’ve become so “in” that I’ve even seen quite a few extroverts parading as introverts, when really they’re just sarcastic bitches whom others hate and avoid.

But I’m beginning to miss the good old days of being misunderstood.

Now, my kindhearted friends are so sensitive about my introvert heart that all my party invites are introduced with, “Hey, I know you’re introverted, so no pressure on this at all, but I have a birthday party this weekend…” Sometimes, they are even so considerate as to not invite me at all to situations that they deem too stressful for my delicate introverted tendencies, situations that only the wild extroverts would appreciate, like sports events and piano bars.

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Extroverts trying to “understand” introverts like…

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In the old days, each event in my friends’ lives was announced with an invitation accompanied by an expectation and a threat: I would attend, or else. (Think Mean Girls, not The Godfather.)

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The threat of losing my friends if I didn’t at least show my face was the only thing that got me out of my room. Now, my friends are thoughtful, giving me so many easy outs to their life’s celebrations that I could easily never see them again.

It would be quite convenient, honestly. Our friendships could simply be occasional texting conversations (as each of us enjoys a bottle of wine in the privacy of our own homes), likes and hearts on each other’s Facebook and Instagram posts, and public posts in which we gush about our extremely close relationship. We could live our own separate lives, using social media to keep our friendships intact. The extroverts could enjoy their loud parties without having to worry about their uncomfortable introverted friends. The introverts could text and tweet from home to stay in touch with the outside world. We wouldn’t have to worry about being disturbed from our element, or of disturbing others.

An introvert’s dream. In theory, at least.

In a world that is now so very aware of my needs, I still find myself unsatisfied. Alone, even. Before I was “understood,” I was pushed. The world was made for and by extroverts–and if I didn’t catch up, I got left behind. My contribution and my participation were expected. Now, the pressure is gone. At least nominally–the world is still dominated by extroverts, but now they allow me to be my freakish, solitary self. And because I can, I let myself get comfortable in silence. I stagnate in solitude.

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I like thinking of extroversion and introversion in terms of energy: extroverts recharge their internal batteries by being around people, while introverts recharge by being away. We tend to forget, however, that batteries are meant to be used. After recharging, we should do the thing which drains us—because that, too, is a part of the human experience. I should not merely stay indoors with a good book (as enticing as that may be), because being a fully charged battery with nowhere to spend that energy is meaningless. It leads to its own kind of weariness and restlessness.

Now that the world around me has taken off the pressure of socialization, it is up to me to push myself. I have to make myself speak up. I have to force my voice to speak over my beating heart at meetings, because otherwise I won’t get heard. I have to say, “Yes!!”—enthusiastically, and with multiple exclamation marks—to every party invitation just to remind my friends that I do like getting out, even if it’s not for too long. Because if I don’t force myself to be uncomfortable, I’ll just comfortably collect dust indoors. If I don’t take the risk of going outside and talking to people, I’ll just have to live with the consequences of my safe silence. Life isn’t merely about being comfortable in our own little corner of the world—it’s about getting messy and sweating and being awkward.

Introverts, it’s time to put on your Indiana Jones hats and push yourselves into adventures outside of your bedroom—because the extroverts won’t do it for you anymore. At the end of it all, you can come back home, open a bottle of red, cuddle up in your comfy armchair, and recharge while you tweet about how annoying the outside world is.

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The Adventurous, Unfiltered Friend

We all need that friend. The one who does the things we wish we could do. We don’t need them necessarily to covet them, or to aspire to greatness ourselves. We need them to know that it’s possible. Because, even if you chose a different path, knowing that the adventure is possible can be satisfaction enough.

For me, that friend is Ottoline. She told the US school system to fuck itself and moved to Quito. She met amazing people and went to magnificent places. I visited her for a week—my last hurrah before mommyhood—and I still love reliving it on sleepless nights.

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Us at Cotopaxi National Park

Now she’s going to Rio, and I cannot wait to see her photographs.

It’s easy to fall into the Facebook trap and feel resentment and jealousy over your friends’ filtered lives. Find the unfiltered friend who grabs adventure, and in doing so, pushes you to find it yourself.

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Add that to the To-Do List

I’m a list-maker and a doer. I love staying busy and I feel lacking when I’m not. But it also means that sometimes I get so stressed out about all the things I want to do and need to do—that I can’t doand that stresses me out even more!

Today, I was having one of those moments. I made my to-do list, both on paper and in my head, and I started walking in circles with Oh! But firsts.

And so I told myself to slow down, take care of two things on that list, then stop. I let myself watch two episodes of Westworld with a glass (or two) of wine. It was perfect.

It’s good to remind ourselves to take a break and simply enjoy having a break. It’s true, hustlin’ and dream-making are neverending jobs. But every job needs a lunch break and a happy hour. Cheers.

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How to Make Employees Do the Worst Tasks: A Master Class Led by a Toddler

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Like any sane adult, I don’t like picking up shit. My daughter, however, can make me do anything.

It started as my way of telling her to stay away from the dog droppings in our yard.

“Don’t touch that! It’s yucky,” I would say.

She would smile and sing, “Yucky yucky!”

Now it’s The Yucky Yucky Game.

Every time we’re out, she’ll look for poop, sometimes chanting, “Find yucky yucky!” until I do. She’ll point it out to me and keep doing it until I begrudgingly get a bag and pick up all of the poop in the yard. But here’s what gets me: after each turd I pick up, she claps, cheers, and says, “Thank you, Mama” or “Good job, Mama.”

Girl, I would do anything for that kind of praise. Even pick up dog shit.

Now all I need is for my boss to learn from my baby. 

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The Mommy Sleep Schedule

My husband usually passes out to the sound of the TV around 9PM. On weekends, he naps once, maybe twice a day.

Me? I function on 4-6 hours of sleep every day, staying up late even if I don’t need to. How do I do it? One word: kids.

Pregnancy warmed me up to disrupted sleep with middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks and vomit runs. When she finally arrived, J was up every two hours for a feeding. When my maternity leave ended, I had to do it all at night and teach 130 hyper teenagers by day. I was in a sleep-deprived, breastfeeding daze for a year. But I survived. And now I can’t stop.

My mom says she still runs on the same 4-hour sleep schedule that she had when we were young. She occasionally dozes off to the TV, so I guess I have that to look forward to.

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Branding Blues

Branding can be difficult for the multifaceted human.

 

Are you a mommy blogger or a blogging mommy?

Self-sustaining artist or self-promoting marketer?

Misanthrope or introvert or just a lonely extrovert?

 

Foodie, not a chef.

Calligrapher, not a writer.

Photographer, not a traveler.

 

The business of likes and follows says to do one thing and do it well.

But the nature of being human is to

branch,

twist,

develop,

evolve.

 

I think I’ll just be me, messy and dabbling in all things, and hope you’ll like me all the same.

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My Wild and Crazy Spring Break – Part 4

I had been thinking about it for years, and this time, I was actually going to do it. On Monday, my heart started racing at the thought of it and I had to talk myself out of talking myself out of it. By the time I walked in to my Thursday appointment, I had practiced my speech thirty-seven times.

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I showed her pictures of what I was looking for. She advised me on the best one, probing to see if I was sure. I looked her in the eye and said, Yes. This is what I want.

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I watched each lock fall and desperately tried to hold back giggles as I peeked at the mirror. She had done it, the cut that other stylists were too afraid to do on thick, wavy hair. I was finally myself: practical, individual, and just the right amount of quirky to disappoint my mother.

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And now to update all my profile pics.

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This is the last of my great domestic adventures during my very chill, very boring Spring Break. See my other Spring Break posts here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3