At this point, it probably goes without saying that this has been a challenging semester.
There has been very little time to sit. To reflect. To read the news on the internet. For fifteen weeks, I have chosen extroversion. From class to my internship to officer meetings to play rehearsals, I’ve had to be an extrovert. You can’t be involved and hide in your room at the same time.
The trouble is, I am an introvert. I draw my energy from rest and peace and separation. Being around people for long periods of time wears me out. I honestly don’t know what to do in crowds, and small talk drives me crazy. I don’t know how to politely withdraw from a conversation with a stranger. Handling social interaction takes a massive amount of energy.
If I were an extrovert, I would have no problem with crowds and constant activity. I would pull my energy from the people around me. I would thrive on being involved and engaged and constantly talking to people.
But I’m not. I don’t dislike people. People are great. They’re fascinating. They’re thrilling. They’re marvelous. But talking to people all day drains me.
I’ll admit to being the kind of person who avoids acquaintances on the sidewalk just so I don’t have to make the obligatory small talk. For example:
“Hi! How are you?” (That’s the extroverted acquaintance.)
“Fine, thanks.” (That’s me.)
“Yes, I am fine.”
“Why aren’t you feeling awesome?” [The extrovert will usually smile here. A big, purposefully cheerful smile, normally mixed with a dash of pity.]
“Because my cat did not die, neither did I win the lottery. I am in the middle. I am fine. [Cough] How are you doing?”
“I’m doing GREAT!”
“Oh, wonderful! Well, um, I’m going to dinner at the dining common.”
“Oh, you ARE? Me, too! I’ll walk with you so we can continue this stilted conversation where I’ll interrogate you about your life whether it’s my business or NOT! Hey, maybe you should join me and my crowd of extroverted friends that you don’t know so you can sit there and awkwardly eat your salad while we all laugh at our inside jokes—but that doesn’t matter because you’ll be socializing like a behaviorally healthy, normal human being!”
…okay, so the conversation doesn’t always sound like that. But sometimes it does. In my head.
When I’m well rested and recharged, I can be around people for hours. I like people. I like serving people most of all. I have a wide circle of good friends with whom I have shared enjoyable experiences. I especially like being around people I love. I could be around those people for hours, days even, and not mind a bit.
But constantly moving, constantly interacting, constantly doing wears me thin.
Tonight, I have nothing to do. Well, not nothing, but nothing that requires me to leave the comfort of my dorm room. I can sit down. I never get to sit down. I can drink stress relief tea and pumpkin flavored eggnog. I never get to do that. I can write a long blog post. You all know that I’ve not been able to do that in forever.
I’m introverting. I’m introverting so I can face the world tomorrow. I’m introverting so I can have a nice, long conversation with an extrovert and enjoy every minute of it. I’m introverting so my brain can wind down for a nice long winter’s nap.
Three sleeps until freedom.