I am an introvert. A flaming introvert. I can fake being outgoing well enough with people that I like, but talking to new people is one of the more terrifying things in the world to me and most days I want a solid eight hours of silence on my computer to feel relaxed. But I get lonely. Introverts get lonely. Introverts get lost in their own heads sometimes. Introverts want reminders that they are loved and noticed. Introverts want to run their ideas past friends every now and then, or just contribute to another person’s life.
The eternal challenge of introverting is how to fight the loneliness when you simply don’t want to talk to anyone. Observing the conventions of socializing sounds far too exhausting. And yet the ritual of being together, the community of sharing space and energy and emotion with others is too much of a draw to be completely alone. Earlier today I read a piece about alcohol and meaningful moments. The author says “Drinking is the organizing force for some of my most meaningful communal moments”, talking about the ways in which we can lose ourselves as individuals when we drink and simply feel more part of something through the lack of barriers, anxieties, and internal monologues.
I suspect that for many introverts, socializing is like always having a glass of alcohol in your hand. You are always that vulnerable. You are always seeking those moments of deeper connection. While I’m not a teetotaler by any means, I have found that I rarely need alcohol to feel that level of connection, and I often feel it better when I haven’t been drinking because I can actually perceive what’s happening.
But when other people want to observe the conventions or speak in trivialities, it is a constant effort to draw yourself back into their shallow present.
Do you have those people in your life that aren’t exhausting? The ones that when you don’t want to be around anyone you can still tolerate? The ones that don’t natter and nag and bother and demand conversation? The ones that simply invite thought? The ones who will seriously entertain the thoughts that flit into your mind when you least expect it?
I think that for me, introvert love is the ability to be around someone without becoming exhausted, without wondering about the walls and the appropriate phrases and words and the ability to fill the silences. Those spaces are the places where I feel connected and needed and important, where I feel part of something larger than myself. Of course there are those “spiritual” moments in loud concerts and drunken dancing, but something about the way that I am put together and the way that I connect with others means that no matter what is happening around me or my state of intoxication or the number of people, I am always waiting for someone to be present with me.
Perhaps this is why being an introvert is so terrifying and so draining, but it is also why the moments of introvert love are so rewarding. Any moment can be one of communion (no not the religious kind). Running into a friend at the coffee shop who is willing to sit in silence or spitball writing ideas can become the deepest kind of satisfaction and quiet and recharging. Where interruptions from solitude are usually the source of anxiety, when they are from someone who can love an introvert, who can be loved by an introvert, they are encapsulating so many more experiences in a few words or an involved conversation.
As Martin calls it, it is “ a “thin place” and a “thin time” — places and times where the veil between heaven and earth, between the temporal and eternal, wear thin.” Time blurs into a too fast/too slow impossibility, stretchy. I keep trying to hold on to these moments, these little loves. I am a chaser of love, the deep and fast hit of knowing someone, far better than any drink or dance or drug. There is no god, but I could easily worship the times I have of togetherness without requirement or expectation. I am in love with being an introvert and with loving the way an introvert loves.
Someone tell me who you are.