There was a time when I thought I was a closeted extrovert. For those who don’t know extroverts are people who get their batteries recharged from social interaction. They’re the people that sit at home bored losing their minds and then go hang out with people to pick themselves up. There were a few times where social interaction put me in a manic mood, like when you have a deep conversation with a friend or really connect with someone. Maybe that is me? Maybe I’m an extrovert?
I always thought I was an introvert because I was shy. But shy and introverted are two different things and I suppose you can have shy extroverts and outgoing introverts. (Who the hell are those people anyways? Anyone have examples?) Also being introverted doesn’t mean you hate social interaction and I think this causes a bunch of introverts like myself some problems. I love social interaction but end up thinking something like, “But I’m introverted. I don’t like people. Why do I feel lonely?” You can see where the problem is hopefully.
After this week I’m certain I’m an introvert. I’ve been as close to a social butterfly this week as I possibly can be and I’m exhausted. Part of it is probably due to not drinking and recovering from that mess, but a lot of it is from socializing.
Therapy last Friday wasn’t good. I admitted to drinking and feeling miserable and noted how damn insecure I was about the upcoming shift change at work and possibly losing friendships that I cherish. She gave an obvious suggestion: keep in touch with them over vacation. You know, show that I value them as friends. That was my ‘homework’ assignment for this past week. Just be somewhat social and “check in” on my friends while I’m away.
What I found was eye-opening. I knew I had severe anxiety at texting people and I regularly won’t respond to a text I deem “important” for fear of saying the wrong thing, or not wording what I want to say perfectly, or maybe because I’m scared they won’t reply back. Sometimes I’ll need to be drunk to have the courage to reply, and that leads to “drunken-text anxiety” the following morning. Let’s make this clear too; these are just regular texts to friends and nothing more. Texting a love interest and having anxiety is understandable but I’m just an anxious mess apparently.
So I dove into texting and trying to hang out with a few friends I haven’t seen in a long time. I was forcing myself to reply to messages in less than a day and practiced just, you know, replying like a sane and relaxed human being. And you know what? It actually worked! By the end of the week I was texting and replying like a fucking champ with all the casualness in the world. If I didn’t get a reply, oh well, who gives a shit? The conversation was probably over anyways.
My friend from North Carolina moved back this week and I texted him asking if he needed help moving. He said that’d be cool so I drove over Thursday to help. His parents had already moved most of his stuff up to his second floor apartment and I only helped with a TV and it’s stand. His parents are super cool people so interacting with them wasn’t too bad, but the anxiety was still there. Hanging out with this guy is easy mode because he’s about the most outgoing and extroverted guy in the world. It reminds me of how extroverts in high school sometimes adopt the quiet, introverted kids to be their friends. But I’m proud I did some work to actually reach out to him and helping is always fun. As an introvert you can’t count on the extroverts to do the work all the time.
My wife and I drove to Davenport Iowa to see my sister and her girlfriend Friday. I need to write a post about how much I hate driving, or did my past drunken self already do that? We were only there for two hours and I was dead for about half the time, once again partly due to not drinking, partly due to the two hour car ride, and partly due to socializing. Shit, even socializing with my sister drains my battery. Meeting her girlfriend for the second time was also stressful, but she’s an extrovert (I think) and better at carrying a conversation than the other three of us, so talking to her was enjoyable, but still draining. I did my best to ask her about herself because introverts can’t rely on the extroverts to always make the conversation. We made it back home after another two hours and I sat on the couch dead for a half hour before jumping into Kerbal Space Program to recharge them batteries.
Aaannnd yesterday. I hung out with a guy I used to work with a decade ago. We have a fun backstory beyond that; we used to date sisters! I never talked to him at the time but he got hired at UPS and we became friends by association. “Oh, you’re the guy that’s dating my crazy ex’s sister. Cool!” Eventually they broke up so now we get to bond over having crazy ex-girlfriend sisters. Yeah, to hell with them.
He wanted to hang out two months ago but I blew him off and disappeared into the ether like I do. I texted him earlier this week admitting as much. “Hey dude, sorry I disappeared for a few months there but I’m on vacation this week. Want to get together and do something?” Man look at me, being the guy asking people to hang out! He came over today and we talked outside for an hour before grabbing some food. I tried my best to be “present” in the conversation but damn do I have almost zero energy to work with. My social battery came from a five-year-old phone apparently. We only hung out for three hours but once again I sat on the couch and just spaced out after he left. I’m so damn tired and exhausted even though I did nothing physical at all.
And there’s the whole visiting my Gramma/Uncle/Aunt/Cousin that I mentioned in this post. It was the same thing: an hour of mild conversation followed by me getting sleepy and lethargic and wanting to go home and play video games. But it’s family so it’s not that big of an achievement.
Achievement. Yes, I think that’s what it is. It sounds silly but a week ago I was stressed about vacation, being bored, feeling lonely, being forgotten by my work friends, and drinking to mask it all up. I sobered up and even if that was shitty and stressful by itself I still managed to face the anxiety and stress of social rejection and text people. It’s not that bad either; what exactly am I so worried about? And I really went above and beyond by hanging out with a few friends and family members that I haven’t seen in quite a long time. I think today I’m going to be a total introvert and just relax. Maybe read a book or play video games or garden of all things.
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