Tag Archives: introvert

Introverts, rejoice (in hiding, of course)

28 Mar

8:53 pm

Well, if no one else is going to say it, I might as well:  as an introvert, I’m kind of loving this social-distancing, sheltering-in-place stuff.  I mean, I haven’t seen any media story cover the COVID-19 pandemic with the angle of, how do introverts feel to “have” to be alone all the time.  It feels like the elephant in the room when I’m talking to people who really know me.  I keep joking about it, like, haha, this is how I usually live, my life hasn’t changed at all, secretly wondering if I was, am, and will be judged for being an introvert (some might say that I am bordering on hermetic these days).

Of course, all the stories zero in on extroverts, or are written from the (more common?) extrovert mindset:  this sucks, to not be able to have human contact, to not be able to get together, to not be able to talk or hug in person.

Um, not if you’re an introvert!  It kind of truly is how I live my life most of the time.  And, a part of me feels slightly scared (is there something terribly wrong with me?) and another part is intrigued (what is it about me, about my own company, that sustains me more than that of others?).  For me, the timing of this pandemic is a relief, considering my days and nights are stressed by work and trying to maintain a sense of sanity and normalcy in the face of my severe perimenopausal night heat.  As an introvert, I find myself thinking, I finally don’t have to make excuses anymore for not wanting to go out or be with other people in a social setting!

I mean, I am used to working from home, but also, spending my time alone and doing a lot of things alone–and preferring it that way!  Even to me, that still sounds bad, but it’s taken me 45 years to not feel the urge to apologize for who I am; it’s probably never going to feel perfectly right, but at least I’m on my way toward being more accepting of myself.

Like, my life is pretty much EXACTLY the same as it was pre-lockdown:  I spend all day home, alone, working, except for the (admittedly relieving–even introverts need connection!) conference calls that I typically almost always conduct via voice (we don’t normally dial in using video); I work out alone; I usually don’t go out to dinner or (gasp!) the bars anymore.  Once in a while, I’ll hang out with a friend or go to the beach with a group, but it’s rare.

Of course, I have my people, those one or two or three people whom I’ve let in, who know me, and with whom I can be myself.  Even still, I need my space and “me” time.  And, by that, I mean, time alone to observe, to process–and, to get the kind of deep, soulful feedback from myself that I need to feel full, whole, good.  I’m not saying I don’t enjoy others’ company; more often than not, though, I prefer my own, maybe because I am overly self-conscious, maybe because I feel like I “get more back” (in terms of what makes me feel grounded and optimistic) from my inner self.

That being said, I totally understand that feeling of being out of control and insane from spending too much time alone!  I’ve been working from home, as a writer, for almost a decade; what I’ve found helps me is this:

  • tracking my time (making to-do lists, writing in a journal);
  • processing the negative thoughts that just start to whir when you’re alone a lot (again, writing in a journal is essential to me getting all that junk down on digital paper, as it were, and letting it go/clearing the way for positive thoughts); and
  • doing things outside my home (and, that could be, doing yoga on the deck instead of in my bedroom, just to see a change of scenery).

It’s not easy, and I feel for people who don’t have significant others, pets–anything to help you feel less up in your head after a long day of being and working alone.  I have hated it at times, but, the alternative is one, not being a writer (I’ve done that, and I’m probably going to do that again–though an introvert, I can swing toward extroversion for extended periods of time as well; a true Gemini!); and two, writing from an office with people around me, which isn’t really different from writing alone at home except there are people around me, talking or distracting me.  I guess the biggest difference is that I don’t have coworkers to chat with, and that can grate on anyone’s nerves, even mine!  Dogs don’t talk back to you (in words, anyway).

And, all that being said, it does suck to not be able to go out and see friends, hug your people, etc. etc. etc.!  But, this, too, shall pass, this, too, shall pass.  (at least we don’t have to worry about keeping stocked with red wine, right?)

Now I chase the reprieve, not the buzz

8 Jul

11:56 am

There was a very brief period–an interlude–either around the time I quit or right before or after, where I didn’t want to drink. I mean, Didn’t Want To Drink. I mean, no idea what drinking was. It was like, I had never drunk, so I didn’t even know that there was something to turn to! It lasted for five hours, to be exact, and it was the most enlightening experience I’ve had to date with regard to cravings–they are not invariably hardwired forever into our brain circuitry.

It was like I had been transported back to my childhood, when there was nothing to do and nothing to try to do. There was nothing to think about, mull over, ruminate on; nothing to escape from, nowhere to go anyway. Life just was, and you just lived it. And it was Good. Good in the way that you don’t know it’s good: the world is round, spinning on its axis, inside the meteor belt, millions upon millions of planets and solar systems and galaxies and clusters of galaxies doing their thing. I could look up at the Milky Way (my dad was a sailor, a merchant marine to be exact, and he relished pointing out the stars) and go, Wow, and Ooh, and Aah, and these were my only thoughts. No, What am I supposed to be doing with myself? No, Arg, I don’t know, and I’m such a loser because I don’t know! No wanting to escape, to be relieved of the responsibility. For what? To be alive? To figure out the meaning of life?

I think when we stop drinking, a lot of us turn to AA. This isn’t a bad thing, but it forces us to focus on our “problem” and our “issues.” To step up and embrace our “responsibilities.” Aside from the fact that I believe in rehabilitating my relationship to (with?) wine, I’ve come to see this as one of the main reasons I stopped going to meetings. We drank, a lot of us, because we had too many responsibilities. We drank, a lot of us, because our egos had already been crushed–by ourselves!

I’ve spent so much of my time trying to “save the world” (in my head, at last)–overachieving, reaching and grasping for what can only be called validation from the outside. And, when our society (Western?) is built upon this ideal, who hasn’t been there? We are socialized to believe that we have to work hard, have kids and sacrifice, play even harder; compete, judge, and compare; self-improve; and yes, even figure out the meaning of life. Um…OK.

I grew up an introvert. I grew up the twin of an extrovert. I have always been artistic, and therefore, likely pre-wired to be self-centered, ambitious, and controlling. I have had to work not on feeling empathetic, but expressing empathy, mainly because I am shy. I have had big problems in my life with being ashamed, secretive, and self-loathing. Depression followed, but that has, I know now, alternated between being influenced by my innate character to being influenced by my choices and my reaction to those choices.

Without going into too much detail, I drank because I could not express myself, would not allow myself to express myself; I drank because it assuaged my depression; I drank because it stifled my existential panic; I drank to procrastinate being creative, which is an expression of fear (of failure, of success, who knows?). I drank because I felt excluded by my introversion, by my smarts, by my androgyny. I drank I drank I drank.

The point is, didn’t we all? Is a loathing of self inseparable from being human? Don’t we all chase a buzz–the buzz of getting what we want, of “fixing” our desire? Mine happened to be a desire to be more comfortable in my own skin. We are shy, or embarrassed–why? I have no idea where my discomfort comes from; my brother never had it. If he did, it was minimal. Maybe it’s an irrational hatred, archetypal? I don’t know.

What I guess I’m trying to say is, instead of chasing a fleeting “buzz” called my “fix” on wine, now I’m striving–chasing sounds lame–for that reprieve, that interlude of light, of fancy, of play. I REMEMBER that it exists. I remember not wanting wine, and I remember not associating wine with reward, or pleasure, or escape, or reprieve. In fact, if there is anything that I would put outside the realm of ordinary, it would be this experience. It was, I have to say, like God rained some fairy dust down on me and allowed me to see it–to remind me that once upon a time, wine wasn’t a part of my world. And, I did just fine. Can I do just fine again? Yes. YES.

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