An Introvert Drinks Coffee

Yup. I'm the green one.

Yup. I’m the green one. (Not really)

It has been a while since I’ve written about being an Introvert. For the past few months I feel like I have been living in Extravert mode without much time for solitude or introspection. I’ve enjoyed it quite a lot- it’s nice to just experience things without feeling the need to dissect them and to be at home in social situations and to have new and exciting things to do everyday, but it has also been exhausting. People keep asking me what my plans are for the summer and I find myself at a loss about what to tell them: all I really want to do is crawl into a cardboard box for three months and alternate between sleeping, doodling, watching television and maybe going for a run now and then. But then I hear about all their exciting plans: internships, jobs, projects, etc, and I once again feel a deep, envious fear of being Left Out.

Sometimes I think I might have a bit of a complex about being left out. Maybe it stems back to those awkward teenage days when I longed to be popular could never figure out how “popular” worked.  I still don’t know. How do people form these broad, friend-groups that do everything together? Who starts them? How do they choose who gets to join? How do they stay together? I want it to all make sense and, by and large, the human creature Does Not Make Sense.

And maybe that is part of the problem: being social often isn’t a matter of talent or skill so much as it is a matter of proximity- simply spending a lot of time around the same people.  Often this means doing a lot of nothing. Or, at least, a lot of nothing in particular: sitting around talking, eating, drinking, hanging out, etc., often in large groups and often in loud settings. I find this difficult and tiring. Instead of feeling like part of the group I feel like a peripheral hanger-on.  I spend a lot of time wishing that I were somewhere else doing something productive, all by myself, in a space where I can hear myself think.

Being an Introvert is that it means being different from most people; in America Extraverts are a healthy majority with only about twenty five to thirty percent of the population as Introverts. I love being an Introvert (heck, I write about it often enough), but I always feel a twinge of guilt when I remind myself that I’m not like everybody else, as if I’m demanding special treatment of some kind. But I’m not like everybody else. I don’t have enough energy to go to all the parties. I don’t have enough patience to do social nothings for very long. And I might just get left out sometimes because of it.

So I guess there isn’t really a moral to this story, just me working through some cognitive dissonance that has been rattling around in my brain. I may struggle to achieve social popularity, but I choose to believe that I can make up for in other ways.

I take it on faith that it will all even out in the end.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 7, 2014.

One Response to “An Introvert Drinks Coffee”

  1. I am definitely not a Glinda or Glenda. I saw Wicked and nearly shed tears when El’ sings her song about breaking free of her “restraints”…just like the snow princess/queen in “Frozen”. Although, I can’t say I’ve had the great breakaway, yet…nor the warm reception/conclusion. But, I have felt myself build up that fighting spirit that wants to claw at everyone who has and might try to “bring me down”. I’ve felt that spark to “go wicked” and rebel against anyone or thing that rubbed me the wrong way instead of always being the “go along” passive guy.

    But, I am still finding myself to be…and feeling quite sad about being…a weak, cowardly lion….er, introvert. Huh-ruff.

    You’ve been an extravert or an extrovert? And, when you are being this other person (than the introvert), do you associate the term with just being busy and not self-conscious? I am not sure your activity has affected your braveness/boldness…or I haven’t been reading something. [My own introversion makes me a little apprehensive/reluctant to read some of your more “busybody successful progress” pieces. Shamefully. But, I do think you probably dwell less on what you lack or how sensitive you are when you find yourself out on the work highway.

    Yeah! I mean, heck. Plans for summer? I envy people to some extent who can do such things. They have calendars all figured out. Well, I know I NEED a calendar and to schedule things periodically lest I forget. I can have a really terrible memory where tasks/chores are concerned. I can remember names and faces like nobody’s business sometimes. But, I struggle with plans, period. With the whole goal setting system, being able to guarantee I will get something I write down done by such-and-such a time. And, if I don’t? Do I fire myself? Do I jump off a bridge? Do I turn in my walking legs or car? In order for me to have summer plans, I need to have people in my life who make those plans with me. When I have someone agree to do something with me–and I am happy to join them–I will mark that friggin’ calendar royally. Til then…sigh…I’ll be in my “room”.

    I don’t have a fear of being left out but–rather–a fear of missing out. Of falling short of what I could be if only I followed the same steps I see/read about. I keep getting this image of cars on a busy freeway…and me stuck trying to start my engine. I can’t move. I can’t keep up. And, then I start to have a panic attack, reminding myself to breathe before my chest explodes. Sometimes–particularly online–other people’s success or progress turns me into a grinch. And, in person, it shuts me up. I hear someone just got some great job or wife or deal…and, if I don’t have the same, I turn pale….I think they’re going to ask me what I have to share….and I won’t have anything… I may have shared this with you before, but, on a school retreat, my classmates were sharing stories of drunken exploits, and I had no such stories to share. I tried to make up one…but that made me feel so stupid, later.

    Screw popular! That’s what I have to remind myself even now. Whenever someone I may know or some celeb I hardly know scores big or draws a crowd I wish I had, I have to remind myself that it’s just not my time (yet). I can’t hog the spotlight. And, I probably don’t want/need to, either. All I know is that some of the unpopular girls in school were just as lovable as the bitchy glam bosses of the class. And, then there were the sad “ugly” ones who even I pitied as I did not find them so appealing. Some girls were just so…bland…I wondered if they had any imagination or personality, at all. You couldn’t feel any energy coming from them. The good ones always give off an energy. But, these girls in the shadows had no energy or good looks to speak of. They were just…there. Dust bunnies. I often wondered what they did for fun if anything. I get the feeling many of the popular kids felt this way about me. They saw me as the dust bunny who shot his mouth off now and then to be noticed. I didn’t like the labels I was “awarded” at graduation, at all.

    I also am not sure if I discussed the concept of genetics. I think–like so many traits–some are made to be “starlets”. Glinda/Glenda is one. She’s a natural light source. El’ is the opposite. She works her butt off and crosses boundaries to make a scene. It might be a sort of “Napoleon complex” in the midst of peer pressure. Some human failing we have that makes us envy without copying (as I am sure you are not the copycat type..right?). We don’t typically lower ourselves to the same tactics yet may try something similar (like a hypocrite) later in a desperate attempt to see if we can’t be the same light source. I think some people carry a certain “scent” which draws the crowd. Like many “blessings”, it can also be a curse (we were spared). Popularity can have its downside, too. Just as those who aspire to be stand-up comics must deal with not being funny some of the time even though the audience will stalk them, always wanting more.

    One working/labor trick I have learned (of) regarding popularity is to know how to network. In some of our introverted/introspective/probing hearts, we see this as “faking it”. We don’t want to wear a smile that isn’t genuine when it deceives those we wish to know better from proving they will withstand our strongest emotions. It’s counter-productive. But, approaching everyone we can, putting on a smile, being upbeat and considerate and displaying adequate knowledge of the subject at hand seem key to scoring a following. Shake hands and kiss babies. And, don’t scrutinize the person’s worth. Adapt your “sales pitch” to everyone so no one can dislike you or spread foul gossip. We must be mindful of the face we put out there…even if it turns our stomach to say everything is amazing on some talk show.

    “So what was it like to work with ___?”

    “Oh, it was so amazing…he’s just so gosh darn amazing…and I had such an amazing time working with the amazing cast and director….and I am just so so blessed to be part of that film (which bombed and made me miserable under a strict dictator who nearly blew me up to get a shot).”

    I suppose–to the genuine introvert (including myself)–such networking seems like a real chore to a teenager:P Sigh…do I have to? I think it comes easier to those who grew up with it in the family. Since my family isn’t very social themselves, I guess it passed onto me. Any family gatherings I remember were always placing me on a couch in dress clothes where I was asked to be quiet and wait til the adults were done smoking, drinking and talking about stuff I didn’t understand. That was my background to socializing. That and whatever I garnered from TV shows. ….Didn’t help me much. So, good grief, I tanked. As Ward says on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”, “It’s a weakness.”

    Yes, that “nothing” vexes me, too. What I view as not much is enough for others. And, if I turn my nose like Oliver Twist to that “gruel”, I only cut off more people from ever joining my circle because they feel “less than” or offended. I want to do something else. I want to do more. And, that doesn’t agree with those in proximity. When I ask, “Where are those who share MY interests?” I usually find them and then question why I have that interest. Why? Because I see someone who acts strange in my opinion…and that makes me wonder if I am not also strange to someone I’d prefer to accompany. Madness, I tell ya. Madness.

    I think some of those “hanger-ons” you DO find in social settings/groups are there for just that, to be THERE, to be part of the crowd. That makes them feel part of something even if they do nothing. And, what’s worse, is I think many organizations for charities and such have lots of these “do nothings” who do more eating at functions than actual participation until/unless someone puts them to task and works with them. [I could be one myself if I let myself go that way and didn’t mind standing around….but that annoys me and makes me feel guilty/worthless.] But, for others, just being “around the water cooler” makes them think they’re hip. They were there when ___ happened. And, if anyone asks, they can say they were there or show a group photo they jumped into. Just think of the Oscars and that “selfie”. Joe B. talks with Mel C. and–after jabbering about something he did–asks Mel, “Were you there?” And, Mel says, “Oh yeah! I even got a picture. Look.”

    In conjunction, while some might not mind a person just nodding along with a topic they are discussing, I get annoyed and a bit discouraged if I do all the talking or have nothing to contribute. I hate watching someone nod to what I say and then leave without much if any input. What were they doing here? Just gathering info? Waiting to be entertained? If I was performing, that would be okay. But, when I am being serious, don’t be a spectator. Get in there. And, don’t antagonize me.

    It’s when people like you feel like less that I feel compelled to offer a hug. 🙂

    I wish I could help make more like you shine and feel your full worth…and I wish I had a strong/compatible partner to help me shine, too. Because I can raise people up…but I need help raising myself, too. Sometimes, being of service helps me raise myself. Sometimes, it just drains me.

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