Well today the universe served me up another moment of self-discovery. [You’d think that at 28 I’d have discovered myself well enough by now. Turns out, not so much.]
This morning I received a message from a good friend asking if I had read any of Amy Schumer’s new book ‘The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo’. He said that there is a chapter in there called ‘I am an introvert’ that reminded him of me.
Well, I felt a bit apprehensive about this, as is my general feeling when someone says that something or other reminds them of me – I mean, what if I don’t agree or it tells me what they think of me and I’m mortified to find out?
But I was at work and I had an entire day of running around to do before I could discover the meaning of this.
After my day of running around I Googled the book and found a sample of said chapter on Google Books. So I read the available pages and now I MUST buy the entire book. But aside from that, my friend was right. He was right. That could have been me writing those pages. Almost even down to the tone. I feel like I may have just discovered my soul mate and I am unlikely to ever meet her. How heartbreaking.
She spoke about meditation, which I love. She mentioned National Geographic photography, which is something I adore and I totally want to be featured in an issue one day [dream big right!?]. She said that writing and the solitude it brings her is one of her greatest pleasures! And she spoke about how women are “always expected to be the gracious hostess, quick with an anecdote and a sprinkling of laughter at others’ stories. We are always the ones who have to smooth over all the awkward moments in life with soul-crushing pleasantries.”
I cannot tell you how much this speaks to me, especially today. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I don’t like to be pleasant, in fact, being pleasant is one of my favourite things; I love being nice, I think everyone should just be nice and stop having wars and being mean. Completely love pleasant. But pleasantries… that fake exchange between two people who are talking for the sake of fucking talking.
Aagggghhhh. Make it stop!!!!
Does anyone even like that? Can’t we have a real conversation? And why am I expected to conduct these pleasantries; because I have a massive smile and most of the noise I make during the day is laughter? That doesn’t mean I enjoy the small talk!
I want to know people. I want to have meaningful conversations, even if they’re not pleasant, even if they’re raw. I want to see people’s souls and connect with their hearts and feel their overwhelming emotions. I want them to connect with me and feel loved and not judged and safe.
Then I want to go lay down in a dark room for half an hour to get my balance back because I take on too much of their energy and can’t fathom where my emotions start and theirs end. And it’s exhausting.
But more exhausting than that, and far less enjoyable, is the pleasantries.
No one believes me when I say I am introverted. And in truth, when I take those online tests [you know the ones] I come out at almost 50/50. So I guess I am more of an ambivert. But no one knows what that means.
I love strangers. I am open to crafting friendships out of the mere happening of sitting next to someone on the train. I see this as trying to add value to someone else’s day and hoping that they add value to mine in return. Unexpected adding of value to one’s day is delightful.
But ask me to greet a group of visitors in a corporate environment, serve them tea and cake and make them comfortable, and I start to feel sick at the thought of it.
I can stand in a room full of strangers and talk coherently about a topic with which I am familiar. I am comfortable with that. Ask me to ad lib on something I know hardly anything about, and I freak out.
You see how I walk this line between introvert and extrovert?
I would imagine that most of my friends and acquaintances, if polled [which is highly unlikely to happen being as I am not a famous] would say that I was an extrovert.
But for the precious few who truly pay attention [like my friend who pointed to the chapter in Amy Schumer’s book].
Those hours of the day that I spend in other’s company are carefully countered by planned periods of solitude and reflection. Ideally with trees.
For example, this week I had something planned for every single night, and all weekend. This filled me with dread. When on earth was I supposed to breath?? So I ended up convincing myself that my wrist really wasn’t strong enough for my favourite yoga class of the week, and instead I’ve come straight home from work to write. I wanted to write. Even a yoga class, my favourite yoga class, was too much like socialising for me. I needed to break up my week with some time for myself. And really, there is nothing else this week I could, or would, cancel. I want to see my friends and attend all of this week’s social outings, desperately. But I can’t spend my entire week with people. ALL. THE. TIME.
On the flip side to that, if you left me in the house on my own for an entire day, 24hours of complete solitude, I would crack up. By day two I would be a broken woman. My tendency for enjoying my own company can sometimes become unhealthy. And I know this very acutely. It slips from a healthy evening on my own to complete and utter recluse with anxiety in less than 48hours. And for that reason, to keep my balance, I must leave the house every day and see people. Even if sometimes all that means is going for a walk and saying ‘good morning’ to strangers. At least I have had human contact.
Of course, now I live at home with my ENTIRE family [it can be a bit crowded] I don’t really have the problem of not having human contact for any length of time. In fact, I now have the opposite problem – I am lucky if I am truly alone for two hours at a time. But you can’t have it all, eh. [Thank heavens for ear plugs!]
Another thing I loved about this little sample of this one chapter is Amy Schumer’s swearing. She don’t half give it some. She just drops it in there like it is any other word and I LOVE her for it. I do that all the time. In fact, I suspect that was an aspect of this particular chapter that led my good friend to think of me. And he confirms “I am listening to her narrate it on audible, and the only person I know who can say ‘fuck’ with as much force as her, is you.” I am unashamedly proud of myself for achieving such acclaim. Maybe I should narrate my own blog posts…
So today’s gratitude is for my good friend and his astute observations; for feeling like I am understood in some way somewhere in the world; for the universe [and Amy Schumer] pointing out to me today why it is I find hosting so unbearable and why that is ok [and that it doesn’t make me less of a woman!]; and for discovering another book to add to my ‘to read’ list.