“But you’re so outgoing!… But you’re a people-person!… But you are engaging!…”
I am a rare genetic mutation breed known as the “Extroverted Introvert”. I rise to the occasion. I’m not faking it, it’s sincere. But you exhaust me. The build-up and anticipation of our get-together saps my energy, and the on-ness I exude during the event – no matter how big or small – is enough to render me couch-bound for the next foreseeable future. It’s not YOU. It’s not personal. You could be my best friend or favorite relative, don’t matta.
Here’s the thing. Once I drag my silly, hypocritical arse out to your gathering/dinner/drinks/holiday/house-warming/birthday/whatever, I do genuinely enjoy myself most of the time. But my god, do I love that text or call from you when you have to cancel. Especially when YOU’RE the one canceling, not me. That way, it’s in the books that we had plans, I had every intention of going, but I got to stay curled up in a comfy ball.
And here’s the other thing. Because part of me apparently is still mentally in middle school, I still get a little flutter of joy when I’m invited or included. But by all means, feel free to cancel.
This is the contradictory, nonsensical, oxymoronic logic – if you can call it that – of the Extroverted Introvert. We crave your company and attention. But it drains us and requires significant pre- and re-fueling.
Did you know that texting and Facebook are my two favorite inventions in the universe? Because until then, I had to answer your phonecall and talk to you at the precise moment that you wanted to talk to me, and I don’t like that. I want to talk to you on my terms. When I’m in the mood, or have the time and mental energy to spare (which is not often these days.) I can spew my thoughts or response out into the world at a time and setting of my choosing, and then reply again when I’m up to it. And then I walk around feeling like I have had “quality” interactions for the day.
How ridiculous “up to it” must sound to some of you.
Here’s my favorite place to be: completely alone, in a location well-populated by strangers, doing their own thing. Like the beach, or a city park, or a mall food court. Complete isolation makes me question my self-worth as well, we don’t want that. But god forbid I spot someone I know, you can be sure I will avert my eyes and walk the other way. It’s not you, it’s me. Like George Costanza. It’s not personal, you could be anyone. I just enjoy my invisibility cloak. My bubble of anonymity.
My good friend and her husband have stayed close with their group of friends for many years. They all take trips together, they plan weekend outings together, they go to restaurants together and sit at large tables and interact. Whenever she tells me about some upcoming traditional big long weekend group getaway, I tell her that sounds god-awful to me, and how can she stand the thought of it.
Whenever I’ve moved to a new city or became a new parent, people would suggest I “make connections”, “network”, “join a mom group”. They know someone who lives on my block, or their friend’s daughter also has a kid who blah-blah-blah… to all of which I reply with something along the lines of, “I can’t think of anything more unpleasant than interacting with other strange humans.”
For some people, like my mom, the approaching salesperson in a clothing store is a welcome sight. “They’re here to help you see what fits/put an outfit together/cup your boobs” (well, that last one is just in the old-lady-bra-store actually) – nothing pushes me out of a store faster than an employee offering unsolicited assistance. I will let YOU know if I have a question. And then once you answer my question, kindly vanish into thin air immediately and never talk to me again.
To those of you reading this who are close friends or relatives, this either comes as quite a surprise – or you’re thinking, “Let’s stop inviting this bitch places.” Don’t do that. In the moment, I’m good and happy. And you’re important to me, I promise.
But feel free to cancel too. Via text.