Google “being an introvert is cool” and you will get approximately 502,000 hits.
Huffington Post, Near Science, Thought Catalog Weekly, Introverts for Dummies.
Have you seen all of the memes out there? Girl wrapped in blanket on couch with cat and book. Girl not answering her phone. Girl sneaking out of a party without saying goodbye.
It’s almost always a girl.
And she’s usually quite endearing.
There are new articles, studies, personal essays and cartoons every single day celebrating the life of an introvert, making good-natured jokes about a person hoping that a party gets cancelled or eating alone in a restaurant.
I even saw on an Introvert Bingo board “Adorably Awkward.”
The message is definitely YAY for wanting to be alone!
Many of my loved ones find me quirky, silly, eccentric.
But let’s just clear something up right now…
IT’S NOT FUCKING COOL TO HAVE PANIC ATTACKS BEFORE FRIENDS SHOW UP AT YOUR HOUSE.
Sure, I can embrace the lighter side of introversion – I do entertain myself well, I enjoy my own company, I love to read and definitely do not need external attention to feel complete or even good about myself. And yes, because I have relatively high self-esteem, I prefer being a loner than not.
But it can be so very very dark and scary and lonely and it’s not about a goddamn bingo board or hanging out with my cat.
Last night, MCB was at the neighbor’s and when he came home he said that they were coming over for burgers (which he was preparing so it wasn’t about me having to cook.) 2 close friends, super duper casual and easy and fun. They’d been pulling thistle all day and needed to be fed.
All in all a lovely invitation from MCB and had I had notice, I would have probably gotten excited.
But, since it was spur of the moment, I lost my shit. Seriously fell apart. I ended up on the bathroom floor pathetically unable to deal, sobbing.
I couldn’t decide which was worse: telling the friends to not come over and suffer the humiliation of being rude; having them come over and trying to fake my way through the evening while my heart was pounding in my chest and I was fighting back tears and therefore couldn’t be nice, and suffer the humiliation of being a bitch to two really kind people; or letting them come over and hiding in my room pretending to be sick and suffering the humiliation of them knowing that I am a complete basket case.
I had to leave the house and go for a drive. I went to the park where I often go to cry, saw a friend and totally unloaded all of my social anxiety onto his shoulders (bless his heart.) I drove around looking at wildlife wishing I was a fox.
Then, mortified, I called MCB to let him know that I was (slowly) recovering and that yes, they should come over and hopefully I was going to pull it together and be hospitable.
I did. I actually had a good time. Since M and M were here when I finally returned and deserved and explanation I offered up, “I had a breakdown” and left it at that.
What was I going to say,”I completely freaked out because I found out that you two were coming over”?
The dark side of “cool introversion” is about exhaustion and terror and despondency. It’s about crying on the bathroom floor because you just found out that people are unexpectedly coming to your house.
It means not going to the store when you desperately need something because you don’t want to see anyone and have to talk, so doing without things like…dinner.
It’s about not getting your oil changed when it’s WAY overdue even when a mechanic shop is on your property because you get gripped at the thought of having to ask for something even though the mechanic is a good friend and it’s his job.
It’s about not returning movies on time for fear of another person standing in front of the red box.
It’s about losing friends because you are unable to keep in contact since to do so would mean talking on the phone or worse – actually making time for a face to face.
It mean people not liking you because they think you’re stuck up or intimidating.
It’s about arguing with the “more the merrier” friend because she really doesn’t get that for you, more isn’t merrier and you feel so misunderstood and flawed because you’re not able to be with great people all at one time and you’re sick and tired of having to explain that to her.
It’s about feeling deep shame when your best friend does actually get it and asks if it’s okay to invite one more person to go to the movie with the two of you.
It’s about having to offend people when you lay down the law about drop-ins and not making exceptions even for the closest of friends.
It’s about having to have time to wrap your head around shifting gears, changing plans and being in public. It’s about sometimes being utterly unable to to that.
I live on a working ranch, there is always activity here, there are always people around.
I lie in my bed silently praying that no one decides to knock on the door.
I get resentful that I can’t go collect chicken eggs without risking a conversation. Sometimes I blow off the chickens.
I spent the entirety of today alone, doing laundry, weeding, drying mint, petting my dog. I haven’t been on the phone. I haven’t left the house except to feed the chickens. I thought about watching a movie tonight, but it feels too stimulating.
So sure, there are some really good things about not being a social beast and I am super okay with going to the desert by myself and writing for three days without fear or boredom or FOMO. I am incredibly well-read and getting sent to my room as a kids was a gift, not a punishment.
But folks, let’s not make light of this. Let’s not pretend that it’s all about the cat and the couch.