Day 4 of Lent
My post is a bit lighter tonight. And shorter. I have been invited to a party tonight, and I am actually going to it. In my quiet world, this is a big event.
I am a rather extreme introvert. A TV party is normally about as much party as I care to handle:
As most of you know (or maybe you don’t), introversion is not a matter of liking or disliking social interaction. I like and enjoy being around people, although I am a bit socially awkward on top of my introversion; conversations are hard, especially with strangers. Being an extrovert or introvert, though, is a matter of whether one is energized by social interaction or drained by it. Extroverts need social interaction to gain energy; too much isolation and extroverts wither. Introverts like me, by contrast, get their energy from alone time, from isolated pursuits, from books and ideas and thought. We like and need social interaction, too– we get awfully lonely without it. The difference, though, is that social interaction takes energy from us, and eventually we will need to withdraw into solitude to recharge.
I am very much the introvert. I test off the chart for introversion. I bury the introversion needle. I don’t get as much alone time as I really need, so I really relish the alone time I get. Today has, so far, been stellar in that respect. I knew it had to be, because tonight I will be around a lot of people, many of whom I do not know. They will be fun, and I will enjoy myself, but without a day on my own I would have arrived running on empty.
Before social engagements, I always go through a familiar roller-coaster social anxiety ritual prior to the time they start. For a long time it paralyzed me. Now I just know that it is how I put my social face on, and so I just shrug and indulge myself. It looks roughly like this:
Accepting the invitation: Wow, I bet that will be really fun! I am really flattered just to have been asked.
The day before: Oh yes, I did say I was going to do that. Should be good. What do I need to make sure I get myself ready?
T-4 hours: [Twinge of anxiety] I need to do dishes and laundry and finish all my other chores. What if I never come home from this thing? I don’t want my next of kin to find the place a total wreck.
T-3 hours: [Anxiety building] Oh man oh man it would be so nice to lie in bed and watch TV for six or seven hours. It looks so cozy!
T-2 hours: [Anxiety pretty acute now] I can’t believe I agreed to do this. Everyone will see what a stick in the mud I am and I will end up looking like Chris Farley on The Chris Farley Show:
T-1 hour: [Anxiety cresting, giving way to exhausted numbness] I have lived a life without regret. I never did mop my kitchen floor. I just hope my family won’t make fun of my housekeeping over my open casket.
T-5 minutes: [Trancelike state] I am clever. I can always play my “smart guy” act. That always seems to go over pretty well, although I have been losing viewers lately in the key 25-34 demographic. My material about Murder, She Wrote just doesn’t pop like it used to.
T+whenever the event is over: That was really fun. I really had a good time. I am flattered that I was invited to do that.
Now that this ritual has played itself out so many times, always with the same result, I now greet it. If I start getting terrified and desperately want to back out, it means that by all means I need to go forward.
To all of you socially adept non-introverts out there: Next time you are at a party or other social function, keep an eye out for the introverts. Say hi to us. We like talking to you. Make due allowances for the fact that it may have taken a lot for us just to get there. When we get home, we will remember you kindly.
Have a good evening, everybody. And I promise I will come back to mop the kitchen floor.