I am a self-confessed introvert and I’m proud of this. I don’t see any reason to change this as it is the place I am most creative and have most control and power of my destiny!
I agree completely that I am an introvert and this I cannot and don’t want to change. But how far this goes is the problem here. I have to come to realise that my belief that I don’t need anybody is my way of staying safe and in complete control. When anybody hurts me slightly I hear myself say “see I told you so, I am better off going it alone”!
In my place of introvertedness is also the place for my greatest creations and I value this more than being able to be seen to be a ‘social animal’ or at least have minimal social skills. For me being creative offers me more meaning and sense of being than anything I would get from being out with a group of friends.
But when that painting is finished and there is a gap where I know I have to breathe for my own sanity, a huge sense of sadness and loneliness comes over me that no amount of painting will fill. I start to fill it with my ‘bad foods’ but this makes me feel sadder. And I come to realise what, even as an introvert, what I am missing is ‘connectedness’, feeling connected with the everyday world that is existing around me.
When I am painting I can miss this and so I tend to use the radio or tv to ride along ‘real time’ with the world, so that, even if I really don’t care about what is on the news today, I am receiving that news at the same time as the rest of my fellow humans. Whilst I don’t care who wins the final of the processed entertainment show (or I do care because my favourite has been knocked) and will forget who won a day later, at least I shared the thrill, excitement and buzz of the whole nation at the same time as them. But is that real connectedness, is this not just observing somebody else’s joy through a screen whilst you sit alone with nobody to share it with?
I have reached a point in my life I know the things I don’t like doing or struggle to do. This is partly because of health reasons, in part because of some learning difficulties in processing and in part from being an introvert. I can’t make small talk about nothing in particular for a whole evening, I can’t handle large groups of people, I don’t need lots of friends because I can’t keep up with them and give them all the loyalty I want to offer them. I like one or two good friends who I can rely on and can have a good chat with aswell as try a few crazy things out with. But the problem with this even is that it comes back to being the introvert. I need a lot of processing time and so some days I really need my time, well actually a lot of days I need my time. So this makes it very easy for me to cancel or be relieved when they cancel or not suggest even meeting. I rely heavily on being spontaneous because I may not be in the mood by the planned time comes along. And then those friendships waiver because I’m not always available and so I am left on my own, in my lonely introverted life where I come to believe I am Billy no mates. Especially when I feel like being spontanious and none of my friends are available because they are all in their ‘my time’ space, because I only really attract friends who will be partly unavailable to me too.
But, I still crave a connection, a meeting of another person sharing a moment. So, instead of seeing those ‘big’ relationships as my way of connecting, I look for and celebrate those small moments that says I existed in somebody else’s life for a short moment. It might be saying good morning to the postie who now knows me by name (although it is on every envelope he posts) and will have a 2 sentence chat, it may be the lady in the spa shop which has become my local and so I tell her this and we now have a connection. By not looking down at my phone while I sit in the café I make eye contact with the little girl whose mum is there in person but not in being as she has her head in her phone and start a game of poking tongues out. These people don’t need to put any huge demands on me or my future, I don’t have to show them loyalty, or meet with them out of obligation. There are no conditions or judgements being made. Just that in that moment we are connecting and it feels nice J .
Within friendships and family these moments can also exist, by not conforming to pressures of your facebook reminder telling you to wish a happy birthday to that person you had a drink with at the bar on your holiday 10 years ago. This year I stopped wishing anybody Happy birthday on Facebook and instead, if I felt I wanted to reach out to them I would text or call them to wish them a personal happy birthday. With my family it is more important I am with them in presence, connect with them in person, than letting the whole world see I have wished them happy birthday. A few years ago I would compare how many birthday greetings I had to other friends, now none of those matters, only the friends who have given me a moment of thought to send me a direct message to reconnect with me on my birthday. Those messages I reply too. Moments of thoughtfulness, of saying I have given you enough thought to find the right gift, to give you a call or message, to ask your opinion on a photo I have taken. We all need to feel we are thought about but how often now do we tell people we are thinking of them? I always thought I was a needy girlfriend but all I ever wanted from a guy was a little text saying ‘I’m thinking of you and thought you should know’. Thoughtfulness creates connectedness which creates meaning and purpose for our existence in the world, by feeling we are playing a part in this complex maze of human interaction.
So, in my dreamy, creative world of introvertedness, maybe I am not cut out for friendships, or maybe my friends are not cut out for friendships with me! But I still love being an introvert as this is my loveliest place in the world. But even introverts need to feel a sense of their own existence within the real world. We may not be able to meet the demands of ‘normal’ friendship loyalties but we can still find it in those small ways. So, if you are thinking of me today….do let me know J