The options for “introvert” photos on Medium are QUITE SLIM and depressing, but this one is nice and fairly accurate. by mvp on Unsplash

I’m Embarrassed to be an Introvert

Because isolation is a little bit of a dream for me

In my wise old age of 32, I have come to realize something about myself. I am most confident, enthusiastic, wildly animated, and totally secure in myself when I know the exact role I am supposed to play.

Perhaps, this is a Universal For Humanity thing. If so, I have literally never had the conversation with anyone about this feeling. Strange.

What I’m saying is that, truthfully, when I don’t have a job title, or a designated role, or a clear understanding of what I am exactly supposed to do in a situation, I become fairly mute.

My job title is Community Manager. A manager of a community. You would think, oh, an extraverted job, clearly. Alas, no. What it is is a fairly clear picture of what is socially expected of the person in this role. Because I hold this title, it is my literal job to call, and text, and zoom, and insta-stalk, and facebook message, and over and over contact people with enthusiasm and persistence. I don’t mind doing it because it is attached to a job description, a salary, clear expectations.

This includes, too, social roles. For example, over the three years of near-continuous tinder dating I did, I came to strongly understand the role of casual dating. Casual dating included bringing a book (or, something my partner makes fun of me, a bag of crochet to work on) in case the person is late. It included asking lots of questions, seeking nooks and crannies of personality and interest, finding common ground, enjoying a stranger.

Weirdly, or maybe not weirdly?, it’s the every day usual interactions that make me the most stressed out. How am I supposed to interact if my neighbor and I are both outside at the same time? How do I hold a conversation with a friend-of-a-friend while we wait for our glue to return from the restroom or getting a drink? How do I mingle at a big social event I’m attending to support a friend or organization? When another dog-walker approaches me, what’s the best exchange of words?

In the scale of social anxiety, I land in the area that knows what it’s like to be medicated and have a panic attack, but socially functions quite well 99% of the time and was only medicated for three months, a move across the country being the next coping mechanism (that, largely, worked).

Sometimes I have anxiety. Other times, though, I am just an introvert. I’m someone who, in the Myers Briggs test, is constantly on the line or just a little nudge on the introvert side. People in large groups for extended periods of time does, in some ways, give me energy.

Nationally required isolation, though, also brings me much peace and energy.

This is where my embarrassment comes in.

I too, scroll endlessly through memes, cries for help, bored single friends, exhausted parents, and infographics that make me want to throw up. But I do that and then turn my phone off, put it in airplane mode, and alternate reading three different books for the next to hours, then put on headphones to listen to a fourth audiobook while I take my dog for an hour long run.

Between zoom calls for work, I take 10 minutes to sit on my floor to play on a chalkboard, or journal three pages, or try to chug a water bottle in three minutes, or go for a three mile jog.

I dance around my living room, doodle, watch videos about how to build up to a real handstand, fold and re-fold clothes, and stare at my plants.

I’m honestly quite content.

We’re in our third week of quarantine and because of the work I do and the friends and family I have and, you know, because I am a human existing on earth, I am quite aware of the dramatic pain that COVID-19 is causing. I know about the refrigerated trucks standing by outside New York hospitals and the teenager that died without being tested and the friend who posted a selfie, pregnant and awaiting test results, and friends who’s small businesses are in peril and family members who have had to lay off teams of employees and friends who are utterly incapable of paying their rent and children and families who will not qualify for the stimulus check because they do not have citizenship in this country.

This is why, snuggled inside of the embarrassed relief I have in not even having any social obligations to make excuses not to go to, I also understand and hold the pain that is this national crisis. The conflict between how I personally feel about my own circumstances (grateful, relieved, safe, comfortable) and how I feel about the world at large (frightened, anxious, uncertain, depressed, frustrated) is just that — conflict. And by writing it out I don’t think I feel embarrassed, not when I can be self-aware and own, side by side, how I feel and how others might be feeling.

Mostly the opposite of having my shit together. IG @okaycaroline

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