Sometimes you find a piece of literature so profoundly life-changing it almost makes you believe (or reaffirms your belief) in a divine presence guiding the universe. How else can you explain that one book or poem that so completely describes your person?
For me, those books are The Poisonwood Bible and My Name is Asher Lev. And...
THIS article. The title alone should merit a click-over: Sorry I Murdered Everyone, But I'm an Introvert.
Some noteworthy excerpts:
Sorry that everyone is dead. They weren’t respecting my quiet power and inner strength. It’s a common misconception that introverts can’t lead; we’re just not always the first to speak up.
Some famous introverts include Albert Einstein, Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, and all of your friends are dead.
I’m so sorry I killed your friends. Making small talk is just really hard for me. It’s so stressful.
Spouseman can testify that when my introvert need for space and time to recharge isn't met, I'm absolutely misanthropic, if not actually murderous. A story: once, some old neighbors came to visit us unexpectedly. I walked in the door from work, and there they were! Sitting on our couch, casually chatting with Spouseman.
Usually after work I immediately retreat into my bedroom cave to recharge for a while (sometimes a long while) until emerging to actually participate as a member of a family unit. It isn't my favorite thing about myself, but possibly going to prison because I killed Dan for asking about my day is also not my favorite thing, so I take what I can get.
That day, I got friends. Friends I really enjoy! Friends I didn't see very much, and might not see again for a few more years, since they announced plans to move. Friends who, had I known they were coming, would make me feel excited and happy about their impending arrival.
But I really, really needed to go sit in my bedroom quietly for a little while. Without these friends sitting on my couch outside my door TALKING and INTERACTING. (The nerve!)
After a quick trip to the bathroom for a mini-freak out, I joined the happy group in the living room. An hour turned into two, and then three, and then Dan invited them to stay for dinner. Dinner, and then, oh hey, who wants brownies? That take an hour to cook! Brownies. More talking. More interacting. By the time they left, it was late, and I as soon as the door shut, I burst into tears. After a few minutes, my tears turned to straight-up frustration. Why hadn't they called beforehand to tell us they wanted to stop by? Who stays at someone's house for that long? DAN. WHY DID YOU INVITE THEM TO DINNER, YOU MONSTER??????????? Sorry I butchered all of your friends in front of you. It’s just that I’d rather curl up at home with a good book than go to a party.
Spouseman was naturally very confused. For him, the evening was fun and invigorating. In all honesty, we'd both had a good time. (Especially when I realized I could take mini-breaks by excusing myself to check on dinner, or change the wash, or check on the cats, etc.) We had just spent the evening with people we loved, and everyone was funny and smart and engaging, so why was I crying?
I explained that I'd been at work since 7:00 a.m., and it was now almost 9:00 pm. That's 14 hours of unadulterated social interaction. I spend my days teaching reluctant teenagers, and repeating the same instructions over and over, (MAKE SURE TO WRITE YOUR NAME ON YOUR PAPER, GUYS! No, you cannot use the hall pass. Can you elaborate on what you mean? Give me an example from the text!) sitting in meetings with agendas I'm convinced could be accomplished more effectively with an email, and trying to talk anxious parents off the ledge via phone when they call the school insisting I explain why their child received a B
By the time I make it home, I need to sit quietly and not talk. Not because I dislike my job, I actually really enjoy teaching most of the time. I need to sit quietly and not talk because my job uses up my mental and emotional resources faster than I can replenish them. It doesn't matter how much I like someone, or how much I want to enjoy spending five hours talking with them, after a long day of work, I need a break. It’s simply an issue of supply and demand.
I always feel bad when I identify as an introvert who needs lots of alone time. I worry that my friends think I am telling them I don’t want to hang out with them, or that I’m secretly miserable the whole time we are together. It’s not true! At worst, I’m just planning on maiming you. (I’m kidding, I promise.)
I love spending time with friends, and I get lonely when I go too long without seeing or talking to people I care about. But I want to give my friends my best self, and not the self secretly planning their imminent demise because they ambushed me after work.
Today I noticed that I unintentionally plan lessons with lots of student group or partner assignments on days I have plans after work. Subconsciously, I’m trying to preserve my social interaction resources during the day so I can socialize later. I probably won’t lecture much on days I want to meet friends at the park, and I probably won’t make playdates on days with lots of work meetings or class discussion. Just like a novice runner shouldn't try to run a marathon without training, I know 14 hours of social interaction will end in nothing but tears and premeditation.
I’m getting better at identifying my needs as an introvert with a very extroverted job. I haven’t cried after seeing a friend in years, so that’s progress.
But I won’t lie, sometimes I can’t help thinking that if you were all dead, you wouldn't keep trying to talk to me. And solitary confinement sounds awfully peaceful.