We Interrupt Our Usual Silliness for an Important Message

I’ve seen this list before, but today it popped up on Tumblr again:

As a general rule, I don’t get super-personal on here–the reasons will probably become apparent shortly–but, lately, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. About being an introvert. About social anxiety. About the ways I process and respond to social cues.

I am not looking for sympathy. I am not looking for attention. I’ve just been thinking…

Not everyone needs (or wants) to be the center of attention. Some people enjoy it. Some people really know how to command a room. I have friends like that. Good friends. Friends I adore. This is not me. Attention, even positive attention, can freak me out. Sometimes a lot. I don’t know how to take a compliment. It really takes me off-guard. I’m really private. About a lot of things. About the things that most people are private about and about the stupid little crap that you’d think no one in their right mind would care about keeping private.

I overreact to some things. Underreact to others. Most of the time, I realize that my reactions aren’t the “normal” ones…but, I’d be hard pressed to tell you exactly why. Most of the time I can usually play it off as a joke. Which helps.

I think. A lot. Not necessarily about big and important fancy things. No. Most of the time I’m thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner, how I’m planning on getting home from my current location, a television show from the ’80s, or a story I’d like to write. I imagine this can make me look like I’m just kind of staring off into space and not “engaging” others. Sorry. I’m just thinking about stuff.

Like the list says: give me time to think. If we’re talking, I am going to start and stop. A lot. I do that. It probably pisses people off and some folks probably think I’m doing it on purpose. I’m not. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until a second or two into the pause. Bear with me while I find the right words to go with my thoughts.

My friends, my wonderful, wonderful friends, will say “Oh, you’re not that bad” or “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Everyone has those moments.” It’s possible they don’t think I’m “that bad” because we were introduced in a small group. Five is my limit. Anything more than five people and I don’t know what to do. There are just too many people for me to get a word in. And that leads to conversational chaos. I don’t like chaos. Or disorder. So, I withdraw, and that makes me look bored or distant. And then I realize that I look bored or distant and I start to feel bad. Which makes me twitchy.

I guess my point is this: If I am there, in a room with you and a dozen (or, gulp, more!) other people, there’s a good chance I would like to engage in conversation. I know lots of stuff. And I’m funny, I promise. I would like to be friendly and pleasant and social. I just don’t really know how to…or, at the very least, I don’t know how to get the ball rolling.



9 responses to “We Interrupt Our Usual Silliness for an Important Message

  1. I feel like I should give this list to my girlfriend re: dealing with me sometimes.

  2. Hear, hear. I am biologically incapable of functioning properly in a room with more than four strangers in it. My small talk quota is approximately twenty seconds. I can’t tell you how many people in my life have told me that they thought I was a bitch or arrogant or didn’t like them just because I literally had nothing to say to them when we first met.

    I have basically a three week rule where my subconscious feels a person or situation out so that it will know how to respond to that person/situation, what kinds of things to talk about, what kinds how to behave around them, etc. Before that three weeks? It’s basically frozen up there and I have no control whatsoever.

    And I hate when people try to “fix” me. Don’t they think if it was as simple as “practicing” that I would be better by now? It’s not that simple.

    • Last month, we had three people leave my department at the same time, which meant three COMPLETELY NEW people would show up at about the same time and no one seemed to understand why I was freaked out by that.

  3. Word.

    Being an introvert is perfectly normal and a perfectly valid way to live one’s life. It’s just the extroverted world trying to change us or impress their worldview upon us that causes problems.

    But for what it’s worth, I’ve never found you to be anything but charming and delightful

  4. I’d just like to add a resounding AMEN to this post.
    I’ve been in my new city for two months and I’m finally just starting to get to the point where I feel comfortable being around the people in my social circle. (Not to mention the fact that at my new job I just started working with my co-workers today and did I strike up a conversation with any of them? Nope. And they probably hate me for it. Sigh. I’ll get there.)

  5. Very insightful. This fits both my boyfriend and my mom. It could also be applied to me, however, I have good acting skills and can act my way through being extroverted when the situation calls for it. The world would suck if everyone were extroverts. We need the introverted people to keep a balance going. Sometimes the phrase “still waters run deep” is really true when applied to introverts and those are the people that are usually the ones worth knowing.

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