I love people. Everyday, I realize more and more how much there is for me to learn from others. One of my favorite things to do is converse about ideas & thoughts, and I've often said that the most you can realistically ask for from anyone is for a quality conversation. At the same time, people cause me anxiety.
So how is it that I enjoy people so much, yet... the anxiety? Well, it's a simple distinction, albeit a subtle one: conversing I love, and I could do (almost) all day; it's socializing that takes a huge mental toll on me. I'm awful at small talk, and it's something I have to work at. Unfortunately, you can't just go up to someone and ask them about the meaning of life, so small talk and socializing are necessary evils, but there's only so much socializing I can do before I withdraw. My mind becomes scrambled, and I can't really even think anymore; at that point, all I want to do is go home and try to make sense of everything. This is common of introverts, and I know I'm not alone in feeling that way.
The introversion-extroversion dichotomy has always fascinated me, because as a strong introvert, I find myself in the minority, and I feel it often times and struggle with it (for the record, I am an INFJ, which of course happens to be the rarest of all personality types...). I've also found that introversion seems to be very misunderstood. Yes, I enjoy being alone, but that doesn't mean that I don't like people and their company. Along the same lines, just because I may not say much doesn't mean I'm not enjoying myself or that something is wrong; in fact, if you get me going about something I'm passionate about, I won't shut up for days. But I'm not trying to give a lesson about introversion; there's plenty of resources out there for that (this is a great starting point). What I am trying to do is explain the internal struggles that I face being wired differently and feeling like an outcast in not only a predominantly extroverted society, but one that promotes extroversion as a key to success.
I think I've finally figured out why I constantly feel frustrated: the world is not an accepting place. We're taught to put so much value into first impressions, and it feels like every second of every day, we judge–and we're being judged–on the most insignificant, meaningless things. I'm tired of having to explain my every single move to everyone... I'm tired of the incredulous "why?" I receive when I say I don't want to go out to some place where I won't be able to hear myself think, or somewhere where the only place I can be alone is in the bathroom. That's not fun for me, and I wish I could explain why in a way that people would understand, but I don't know how. And it sucks. It sucks feeling like the boring guy that nobody wants to hang out with. It sucks having to incessantly socialize in order to spend time with people. It sucks that I can't show any signs of unhappiness or discontent; otherwise, I'm being a buzzkill.
Maybe it's all in my head... or maybe it's not. Either way, I don't really think it matters, because the burden is there. Whether it's real or not, I feel it. And it's the reason why alone time is so important to me, because it allows me to let my guard down without fear of judgement. I want to look sad without anyone asking what's wrong or ruining anyone else's mood. I want to let out all the built-up emotions without scaring anyone off or looking like a complete lunatic. There's comfort in being able to do all of that, and doing that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with me; it just means I'm human. Unfortunately, in order to be a successful functioning part of society, I can't do any of that in the presence of others, nor do I feel comfortable doing so. How backwards is that... in order to be accepted by society, I basically can't show that I'm human. It's mind-boggling.
I don't really know the point I'm trying to make here. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I know what it's like to feel like every move you make is being analyzed and the worry that can cause; it's why I never try to judge people, because you never know what they're going through. It's ok not to be ok, and it's ok to feel sad when everyone around you is happy (and vice versa). It's ok to be emotional. Your emotions are valid; don't discredit them, and especially don't ever allow anyone else to discredit them. Every single person is fighting their own battles, and I can guarantee you that if we as individuals discussed more openly those battles, we'd quickly realize that we're all fighting on the same battlefield. Great, now I'm getting all preachy, and it's 3:04 AM... ok please, let's stop judging, start accepting, and start talking more about things that matter, because human connection is one of the greatest and most fulfilling feelings there is, and we need more of it–or at least I do.
Thanks for reading, it truly means a ton.