The Glorious Silence
Two weeks ago I realized that I was an introvert.
I know. As one who LOVES personality tests, I probably should have sorted this out long ago, but I didn’t. I probably had other stuff to do, like sit in my room by myself and read a book on the Supreme Court or sleep through someone’s birthday dinner (that has happened multiple times). I used to be able to fake extroversion but at the ripe old age of 23, I’m tired of the bullshit.
If I want to sit home by myself and read Jane Eyre, then by golly I will! I don’t want to go clubbing, I don’t want to be in the same vicinity as people who are talking loudly over bumping club music, and I don’t want to go to a party with strangers. At all. It literally suffocates me. I don’t think it’s social anxiety so much as the realization that I could be hanging out with my friends drinking wine and watching a movie instead at some bar in DuPont Circle hating every moment of my life.
I can fare well if I can have a decent conversation with someone, but if that’s not happening I’m ready to peace out. A few weeks ago, I was at a rooftop bar on U street. It was very hip and extremely metrosexual. Everyone was very androgynous and cool. Like, too-cool-for-PBR level cool. I was obviously drinking water because I’m 23 which is basically 52 and if I have more than one beer in a 24-hour period I will literally look like the walking dead the next day. I don’t know man, it’s just the science of it all. Anyway, I was talking to a guy at the bar and over the music he yells “so what do you like to, like, do?” and I yelled back “I like to read” and he said these words: I don’t like to read, I haven’t read a book in ten years.
“What the actual hell even in the whole wide world, what, why?” was my response. I was baffled. And at that moment my introversion was all too much. I felt like I was drowning; there was actually nowhere in the world that I wanted to by less than at that bar at that moment. I actually thought I might start crying. I turned to a friend and told her, “Either we leave and do something more fun or I am going home right now and going to bed”. I am an exceptional negotiator and I was not going to be held hostage by I-haven’t-read-a-book-in-a-decade guy. No one wants to be in that situation with that guy. My ultimatum was successful and we swiftly left the bar. We then attended a drag queen show for an hour. I snap-chatted the whole thing. See, even introverts can be fun.
In my defense, I spend most of my day communicating with people and sometimes just want to be quiet. For instance, this past week I attended a trade show for my company. I stood at a booth for three days straight and marketed my firm's capabilities to Army leaders. I might as well have run a marathon fifteen times, I was so tired. By 10:00 am on day three I was ready to curl up in the fetal position underneath the closest available table. Since the moment I left the Washington Convention Center I have not spoken more than twenty words. I counted. I haven’t made a peep in the last six hours. It feels great.
Before my introverted epiphany I thought I was just the world’s worst extrovert. Each time I was miserable at an event I experienced massive waves of social guilt. Like the time I left my own birthday party because I was overwhelmed and that annoyed me (God bless us each and every one). I’m not neurotic at all.
Though my introversion can perhaps cause me to be a total kill-joy (especially at bars with strangers amiright guys?), I think it has helped me build some amazing friendships here in DC. I have gone out of my way to have consistent, quality time with my new friends and have thus formed some really great relationships. I’ve made a little community for myself. I have found my friend group. However, I need about two hours of alone time for every hour of social exertion. I love all of my friends, but I love them even more in moderation.
Because my life is absolutely like a throw-away-scene from some low-budget chick flick, I have started a book club. A real power move on my part. It is currently 18 women strong, which is probably too big but whatever, we believe in anarchy. I enjoy my time with them so much. After reading a book all month I am eager to share my thoughts, and they feel the same way. Over wine, queso, and rice krispie pumpkins, we laugh, talk about celebrity crushes, and recap our work days. After basking in the glory of new friendships, I am often ready to go home and go to sleep but not before sitting in bed and reading a few pages of a new book and enjoying the glorious silence.