Tuesday, December 09, 2014

My choice: Guilty, or fake?

I just saw this, 18 People Talk About What It Feels Like To Be An Introvert. I think the first entry sums it up pretty well. It's well-worded, with "I" statements instead of accusatory "you" statements, and very clearly conveys the particular emotions she feels. Some of my favourite parts of what she says:

I feel frustrated when I explain to someone that I need alone time and she responds, “yes, I need that every once in a while.” No you don’t get it, that is my preferred mode, almost all the time I would prefer to be alone. I was just making it sound casual so I wouldn’t offend you or make you think I’m weird...

I feel fake when I am doing small-talk. I am very interested in you as a person, why do I have to pretend I’m not?

I feel lonely when I’m with a group of people and talking about nothing.

So here are some things I personally feel about being introverted, and about social interactions in general. Not trying to extrovert-shame, nor am I trying to throw myself a pity party or imply that only people like me are misunderstood. I also won't pretend to be speaking for all introverts; just as introverts are wired differently from extroverts, individuals are also wired differently from each other. I am introverted, yes, but I also have social anxiety that seems to affect me more than a lot of other people, even other introverts. So these things may not apply 100% to other introverts. They're just things I wish people would just understand about me.

I feel proud to be different from the norm. In general, I like rebelling against how society tells me how I should look, how I should act, what I should want/like/need just because I'm American/female/young/etc.

But I feel unacceptable to society. In 8th grade people started telling me things like, "Why don't you talk more?" and "Talk about something." To which I would respond, "What do you want me to talk about?" They would say, "I don't know, just talk about something." They weren't really interested in me, they were just trying to fix me. It didn't bother me then, because I didn't care what those people thought of me. But now that I'm an adult, the people around me talk to me because they assume I feel left out.

I feel guilty preferring to be left alone when they're just trying to be nice, so I talk to them, but I hate small talk so it all makes me feel fake.

Talking on the phone makes me feel nervous, and if I haven't mentally prepared for it first, I feel very flustered. I've passed up opportunities to apply to appealing, well-paying jobs before, because they required answering phones.

I feel fine being by myself at home. Or hanging out with someone. Or hanging out with a group, as long as I'm free to socialize or just watch from the corner, whichever I want. I don't hate people, and I don't hate socializing. I just want to have a choice. Sometimes, I'll choose to sit quiet and watch others. Sometimes I'll choose to converse.

I feel annoyed when people try to pressure me into dancing/going somewhere/etc. I feel angry when they insist I just need to lighten up. I feel lonely when they don't understand that I'm just not the same as them and don't always want the same things as them. (Hint: If I've already said no, don't try to pressure me. You'll fail. The harder you push, the harder I resist.)

I feel like I'm not free to be myself. I'm pretty chill, I just don't express my emotions visually. If I'm not smiling, people assume I'm not happy and ask me what's wrong. I'm sarcastic, but feel like I have to fake cheerfulness instead to appease them. I can't tell jokes because no one gets that I'm joking. (Then when I say something serious like "I don't want to," they don't believe me.)

When I'm myself, I come across as unhappy and/or rude. (Ever heard of RBF? Resting b**** face? I have been told by 2 very good friends that when they first met me, "I thought you were going to bite my head off," and "I thought you didn't like me very much.") But when I'm not myself, well, I'm fake.

I feel embarrassed when people make a big deal about me. For instance, I like to sew. When I make something I'm proud of, I want to share it. But the more people make a big deal about it, the more self conscious I feel. I wanted you to share my happiness, not tell me how wonderful and talented I am. I'm not any more talented than anyone else just because I can sew.

I don't care about my birthday.

I don't care about your birthday.

But I will remember your birthday.

I don't care about ceremony in general. Or a lot of things people do because it's traditional or classic or the norm. I sometimes go along with it just to avoid having to explain why I don't care for it.

I feel at ease in a crowd, and pressured in traffic.

I have a hard time saying no. If you're trying to get me to "loosen up," then forget it, I'm saying no. But if you're asking me to do something for you - work for you, drive you somewhere, help you out, I have a hard time saying no unless I feel like I have a legitimate excuse beyond my control (too busy, no car, etc). I have an even harder time saying I quit.

Sometimes I feel guilty. Most people aren't like me. Can't I just adapt, and get over myself (as people have told me to do, well-meaning or otherwise)? Why get so hung up on my personal bubble? Maybe I'm just being a wet blanket to everyone around me who's trying to have fun. And then I remember my first job, cashiering, two 4-hour shifts of pretend cheerfulness every weekend, and I remember how exhausting it was, and how much I dreaded the weekend.

So, it's my choice: Feel guilty, or be fake?

I don't wish I was different. I don't wish I was an extrovert, or more cheerful, or the kind of person that enjoys cashiering. Because, frankly, that scares me. I just wish I could freely be myself without being told to open up, come out of my shell, or get over myself.

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