Sometimes I hate being an introvert.
It feels yucky and icky; like a disease I want to get rid of.
I find that I am resenting this part of myself a lot lately, and though this feels unhealthy and dangerous, it’s there; no use in pretending it’s not. I am acknowledging it and trying to figure out how to make peace with it.
Being newly single, at age 42, with 2 children is tough enough. Losing what feels like my entire life, family, and community to this fucking divorce, and having to rebuild my life from scratch, has been nothing short of terrifying.
My entire social network was made up of 40 year-old couples, married with kids; families. They don’t go out dancing on Saturday nights, they don’t want to go try acro yoga in the park, be wild and stay up late, go out to meet people, date. They stopped inviting me to do much of anything. I became the scandalous divorcee, the 3rd wheel, the one who gets the pity party. I am covered in the social stigma that is DIVORCE.
I have done my isolating, my sequestered hunkering-down. I did that for about 3 months straight – I went out maybe once a month, binge watched Netflix like it was my job, and literally came undone. It was what I needed to do. I needed to fall the fuck apart.
So I could put myself back together.
But for the last few months, as I continue to find my center, and myself, I have been venturing out into the world. I try to go dancing every weekend. I try to meet people and make new friends. Age has stopped mattering to me completely. I have more in common with people 10 years younger than I am and that is okay. I may be ‘in my forties’ but I feel like I am 30-something and I have never been in better shape than I am now; physically and psychologically.
The really hard part? All of this newness and adventuring out of my comfort zone has me resenting being an introvert.
I am no mildly introverted human; I am an empath, HSP, 84% introvert (I used to be a whopping 95% – I am making progress here!). I am an INFJ and we are creatures of habit bordering on rigidity. Everything overstimulates me. Everything overwhelms me. Yet, I have found that I can push through it in the moment. The pushing through it is HARD though; physically painful at times. I used to rely on alcohol to get me through it. I would take that edge off with a beer or two. (I am sober now – though I do have the occasional IPA).
I sit and listen in new group situations; I am the watcher, the observer. I rarely feel comfortable in sharing right away. I feel awkward and uncomfortable and it takes a momentous amount of effort to focus on everything going on around me. The really shitty part of this – I am left reeling for days. Seriously. Days spent not talking to people and recharging at home, feeling spent, sad, and a lot like a misfit.
Trying to find out where I fit in on this crazy, nutty spectrum of human interaction.
I watch the extroverts with envy. They seem so relaxed, so adept at all of it: the chatting, the funny/witty comments (I have those but they come hours, sometimes days later), the charming outward ease with which they interact with other humans. I am the shy, quiet, reserved, awkward girl watching it all.
UNTIL YOU GET TO KNOW ME. And then I am an explosion of amazing.
But then this: I have this paranoid feeling; how the fuck can anyone get to know me when I am constantly having to navigate these uncomfortable social situations and I can’t be myself right away? I want to make a business card that reads:
“please excuse my introversion. I swear, I am awesome as fuck.”
I think this is one of the (many) reasons I have always gravitated toward being in a relationship. Having a partner by my side acts as a social buffer – someone I can anchor myself to when I feel overwhelmed and unsure. Having a person to do things with takes away that pressure to go out and meet people. Staying in and watching a movie with someone is absolutely my idea of a dream date.
I know that introverts are amazingly complex people (not to say that extroverts aren’t). I know that my introversion is part of what makes me an incredible mother, partner, friend, and teacher. I see everything and everyone and absorb it all. No one goes unnoticed in my universe. My inner world is rich and complex and goes well beyond the chit-chat that makes up the many conversations and social interactions I witness.
I just find it frustrating that I can’t be more outgoing, socially comfortable, or at ease in the larger world. I feel exhausted from constantly challenging myself and stepping outside of my comfort zone. But this is my path. This is healthy, good, and totally necessary.
I cannot and will not hide any longer.