For most of my life, I thought of myself as an extrovert. Most of my jobs were in restaurants where I talked to people all day long. I preferred working in small diners who had regulars who came in to eat and I got to know their life stories. When I was in my twenties, I spent time in discotheques most weekends (it was the late seventies) dancing for hours. I went to gay clubs because they played the best dance music and I could dance by myself and no one cared (people in straight clubs prefer dancing with a partner and in gay clubs, lots of people danced alone). I was never one for going to parties though. I found them boring and I didn’t like talking to people who I didn’t know. It just felt shallow to me. But! That’s not completely correct either, if it was a small gathering and I knew most of the guests, I could act silly. I did enjoy that!
I liked going to movies and eating in restaurants alone. If I did go with someone, it was usually a date or a friend, but never a group. I liked being in public as long as I didn’t have too much interaction with people. I liked spending time alone when I wasn’t working. It never occurred to me that I was an introvert (some might call it a social introvert) because I’m never completely alone, I always have four-legged companions and like I mentioned, I worked in the service industry.
It was about a year ago that I noticed my behavior. Hubby and I were still living in the condominium and I started avoiding the neighbors when I was out in the complex walking my dogs, especially those neighbors who talked my ear off about their personal problems. If I did run into someone, I gave him or her a quick “hello” but never asked that question we all ask, but never really want to know the answer — “How are you?” I learned asking that question opened me up to all sorts of information I didn’t want to know. It was easier to avoid people — unless they were walking their dog, then I could focus on their pooch, and by focus, I mean talk directly to their pooch.
I can’t remember where I found the online test to see if I was an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between, but after I took it, my score was much higher on the introvert scale. Then I began reading more about introverts and I related to everything. You may think, who cares if you are introverted or extroverted? Well, I do only because most of my life, I never felt like I “fit in” anywhere. It’s not like I have a need to fit in, but its nice to know why I do the things I do. I just thought I was antisocial and sometimes plain rude, but now I know I have certain needs so I can feel balanced. I need time to recharge after I’m with a group of people or even an extra “chatty” person. Before, I would go places out of obligation and then be crabby for long periods. Doing things because I thought I had to, made me feel stressed. Now I understand my behavior and I can take care of my needs without feeling guilty.
Since we moved to the country, I don’t have to worry about running into people when I’m out for a walk. Waving at a neighbor driving by is about as social as it gets. (Maybe they’re introverts too and that’s why they live here. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll research that).
The other day we Skyped with a relative who lives in Europe. She lives in a large city and like a lot of Europeans, she shops for food several times a week. She’s used to going out in public and (I’m guessing) enjoys the interactions. When she found out I do a major food shopping run once a month and leave our property only once a week, sometimes every two weeks, she sounded surprised. She seemed to feel sorry for me so I said, “I enjoy time alone. I don’t get distracted and I can focus on writing and reading and contemplating.” And that is absolutely true –except I can be distracted by the Internet. There are so many authors (famous and regular people like me) who write such fascinating, thought provoking posts, I get lost in their words for hours. Before social media, I was limited to what was in the library and in the local bookstores, now my Goodreads reading list is over fifty books and growing!
The way I look at, I’m on a long term writing retreat. We’ll see where it takes me…