I think I realized I was an introvert at some point in graduate school (inorite?).
But, in my defense, I did forensics (of the public speaking variety) competitions all through high school and I majored in theatre in college. I’ve never had trouble getting up and speaking in front of dozens or hundreds of people.
So I couldn’t be an introvert, right?
I knew I didn’t like going out to the club dancing when I was in college. I would do it, once or twice a semester. And every time, about an hour into it, I would realize I wanted to go home. I can have fun dancing maybe twice or three times a year (bonus points if I’m tipsy).
Being in a crowd of hundreds of people jostling past me with loud music blaring? Somehow a million times worse than the edge of the stage separating (protecting?) me from them.
I also feel like ever since I figured out I was an introvert, there’s a part of me that’s been fighting back against it.
Something my therapist said to me last week has been jostling around in my brain.
She said one of the things I said I wanted to work on when I came in was “being more social,” and how was that coming along did I think?
And all I can think is, did I say that?
I honestly can’t remember.
But I’m not sure that what I really want is to “be more social.”
I would like to have more friends.
I like people, in groups of ten or less.
I love people one-on-one.
But “being more social?”
I’m not sure I like the sound of that.
But maybe I did say that’s what I wanted. Maybe a part of me thinks I “should” want that (Oh! the dreaded “shoulds!”).
There are 7 days and 7 opportunities for socializing in a week. Right now, I spend 1-2 nights a week with my partner (and I need that quality time as it’s my primary love language). I also need 2-3 nights alone for work (I’m a night owl – that’s my most productive time!) or self care. I also often do an interview each week over coffee for my freelance writing. So there are (conservatively) two other opportunities a week for socializing.
Which sounds about right. One-on-one dates with friends? I could do two of those a week.
But things get complicated. Those two nights with my partner – are we watching a show on Hulu in his room or did we go out? Those nights at home – is my roommate home, too? If I do go out, is it a performance, which might energize me, or an evening at a bar or club, which might not?
I also have to take into account that I host two social events a month – an open mic night and a social meet-up.
All this tabulating of energy input v output gets really complicated, fast.
An intense trip with a lot of social time might be a fun escape in the moment, but it might also mean that I don’t see local friends the week after I get back, either.
I know when I’ve done too much because I want to hide under the covers for days afterward.
And it’s difficult coordinating various schedules with friends, sometimes, to do enough.
If I don’t see anyone but my partner and roommate and cat all week, that’s probably not enough.
But I can’t be “going out” social every night (or even most nights?) of the week or it’s too much.
I also don’t know why I feel this constant pressure to be social.
I do a local events column for my freelance writing, so maybe it’s partially knowing about all the awesome events happening literally (and I mean literally) EVERY DAY in Austin.
It’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out.
There’s a lot I would like to do, but I know that if I did it, I wouldn’t have the energy for the work I have to do to pay my bills.
I wonder if this is also part of my problem with activism? I want to participate in activist events, but usually those involve hundreds of people in the street, shouting – not so different from going to the club in some ways, right? Maybe there are other ways for me to be involved which are more behind-the-scenes instead of on the front lines where I will burn out super quickly, long before I’ve probably made any sort of impact.
I think I also have this sense that I used to be “more” social.
When I was still living in Bryan, I attended a weekly game night with friends, went to 2 social gatherings a month and 1-2 parties, as well as making 1-2 trips a month to Austin. But that was ALL I did. So it still works out to 2-3 social events a week, and I was seeing my partner twice a month instead of twice a week. Maybe the difference is, at that point, I was accepting ALL the social opportunities I had. Now, it feels like I’m not even past the tip of the iceberg.
But maybe that’s okay.
Maybe it’s okay if there are a million awesome things happening all around town every day without me.
And maybe it’s okay if I try to start my own game night so I can make cool people come to me and have social time where I don’t have to leave my house.
Honestly, when I was in college and living with my best friend, I don’t think I did much else but hang out with her.
I would go to play rehearsal, and sometimes go for food afterward. But if I really think about it, how many times did I refuse the invitation to get food compared to the times I took it?
In college there were more times I was AROUND people, in class or rehearsal. But those were low-risk, high-reward conversations which didn’t drain me as much as a lot of what the opportunities to socialize as an adult seem to be. Because there was also a lot of time thinking or listening, in addition to time actually engaging myself.
I can go to mixers or clubs or parties or big events and I can have a certain amount of fun. But that’s never been my default preferred style of meeting people, and wouldn’t always be my first pick of what to do. If something big and awesome is happening and it only happens once a year – count me in! But don’t expect to see me out every weekend, you know?
I was possibly more social in graduate school, but it was because I HAD to be. I was researching two social organizations, and sometimes my ethical role as participant-observer was all that got me out of the house to some of those events.
I will always prefer a handful or two of people just chilling in someone’s home watching movies/TV, doing crafts, cooking, playing games, and/or chatting.
The trick is finding other people who want to do those things.
Where do introverts find introverts when none of us want to leave the house?
It seems like posting about this issue on Facebook brought some people out of the woodwork, so I will see how that goes.
Maybe I can learn to accept the kinds of socializing I want to do, and let them be okay.
Stop trying to be someone I’m not because I think it will make me cooler or more fun or get me more friends, and start thinking about the kinds of friends I want to have.
Because I don’t really need more than a handful of close friends I see on a regular basis, anyway.
I like people, one-on-one. I really do. I find everyone fascinating on an individual basis, and maybe it’s that desire to really see people which I confuse with “being social.” I have a limited amount of social bandwidth, so I might as well spend it in ways which feed me, too.