I took a day off today. A real day off. No work. And I stayed inside, perfectly secluded in my bedroom. I didn't vegetate, of course not. That's just not my personality. I cleaned like a madwoman, taking advantage of finally being home. After throwing my back from vacuuming and cleaning up the bedrooms, I sat up in my bed and thought, "I can do this for the next 100 years."
Stay inside. Minimal human interaction. A good book. A foreign film on Netflix.
Those who know me well, which is less than 5 people, know that I'm an undercover hermit. I dread social events, idle chatter, and perfunctory greetings. My husband knows where to find me during a party in my house after 3 hours. In my bedroom, in front of my laptop or an open book. His reproach is always the same:
Babe, these are your family downstairs and you're here hiding!
And, eventually, my sister-in-law will find me and chuckle. Here you are. Getting to be too much, huh?
What's funny is her daughter, Amber, is always compared to me. She's exactly you. She looks like you. She talks like you. She acts like you. Except Amber thrives in the spotlight and attention is key to her energy.
I am the complete opposite.
It is true. I can easily be the loudest in a group and I will not shut-up. And I have one of those laughs---HA HA HA---over simple and mundane comments that are merely amusing and far from hysterical. But the laughter comes out and I laugh easily. It's an inherited thing. It's also cultural. Filipinos love to laugh. And growing up a pastor's kid, I talked to everyone, I greeted everyone, and I joked around all the time. And laughed at my own jokes. HA HA HA!
But I could never wait to stop talking, to stop being amusing, to stop laughing and get to my bed and hide. Enough with the chatter, enough with the noise, enough with the charm.
"Do you think I'm a snob?" I asked my husband yesterday.
"No," he said, thinking. "But you're only comfortable around very few people. People you're familiar with."
And when interactions with those familiar people stop, they fall under the category of people who now make me uncomfortable.
I'm 41 now so I've taken ample personality tests that revealed what hardly anyone who was around me in my 20's would believe: I am an introvert.
I sang solo in college, I preached in the pulpit from the time I was 17, and I had the reputation of being a dynamic youth pastor.
I found out later in life that "introvert" is not synonymous to "shy."
I did not play with children when I was a kid. Actually, I just did not play. I had, at most, 2 friends. And I never let anyone know, ever, how I was truly feeling inside. Strangely, what I do for a living is create treatment plans for some children who have those same social deficits. My Aspie clients remind me of myself. They're perfectly content in their own universe and need no other peer to interact with to stay perfectly content. And sometimes, while developing their treatment, I think, But why should he have to engage in social interaction! Of course I know the answer to this:
It is socially valid. This is a social universe. We have to interact.
But...I want my bed. I want my book. I want my laptop. In the privacy of my own bedroom.
And I look at those Aspie kids and think, I know. I understand. But we gotta do this. Now go say hello to the other kids and look at their eyes when you do it.
If we don't interact, if we don't socialize, it is rudeness. People think you're a snob, or that you don't like them, or that you're mad. And there are always those who think, What is your problem?
I can't keep up with the amount of people who, I later on found out, thought I did not like them, or that I was mad at them, or, in the case of one, I genuinely hated them. Sadly, I did not even know the person's name, nor how he looked, or what he was like. I just never looked up whenever he was around.
Oddly, at 41, I can only come up with one person I genuinely did not like. Recently, another person joined that small group but overall, I genuinely like people.
It's not a matter of liking for introverts, I don't think. It's a comfort level. I don't mean surface, social interaction. I'm actually a pro in that. I can engage and interact and be charming like a true PK (Pastor's Kid) and enjoy the experience. But a level of plutonic intimacy requires a much deeper level of comfort and safety. I think most introverts have to feel safe enough to peek outside their very private shell and let a person in.
Once in, an outsider will find that inside my shell reside…absolutely nothing. No secrets. No hidden personality. No rare treasure. No psychedelic lights with sparkling stimuli. Nothing inside but a workaholic who enjoys watching documentaries and foreign films on Netflix.
And it's exactly how I like it. No clutter. No noise. Quiet and private.