The Introvert’s Catch-22. Or One Person’s Pathetic is Another Person’s Happy.

Be yourself. We hear it all the time. Just be yourself, and things are bound to work out.

Here’s the thing. Myself? Perfectly happy to read and watch movies all weekend. Or an entire tv series on Netflix.

And I don’t just mean every once in a while it’s nice to have a quiet weekend like that. I mean that ‘quiet weekend’ is my default, my preference. I ensconce myself in a cozy nest of blankets and pillows on the couch, pick something new to explore or something well-loved to revisit, and sigh in utter contentment.

Along comes hour five or six and there are plates and bowls crowding the coffee table and crumbs in my lap. I know how it looks. Peek through the drawn curtains and you’d see a girl, probably still in her pajamas and needing a shower, sitting alone, surrounded by detritus, staring at her laptop screen. It looks a little pathetic. It looks like I need someone to burst in and tell me to get off my ass. But it doesn’t feel like that. It feels wonderful. Calm and quiet and restful. It’s my perfect day.

So I cut myself some slack and I let myself be myself. But maybe I cut myself too much slack.

Be yourself = only leave house when absolutely necessary

In my everyday life, here are the circumstances under which I interact with (or am in close proximity to) people: work, the farmer’s market, the grocery store, the bus, the sidewalk, occasionally the library, book store, music/movie store, or thrift store. That’s me in a nutshell, right there. I need food, transportation, books, music/movies, and clothing. When my best friend would tell me that I need to get out more, I would argue that I’m around people all the time. I chat with cashiers. I smile and nod to fellow pedestrians. It’s totally possible that one of those people could be a new-friend-turned-soulmate. Sure. That staunchly held belief has worked out well for me this past decade.

In recent years I have made efforts to be social. I joined meetup and started going to a writers’ group (even though I hadn’t written anything in years). The group met weekly, and I even volunteered to host. (I had an ulterior motive as this meant the people would come to me and I wouldn’t have to worry about getting to and from the meeting in the dark.) I really enjoyed the group for the most part, and I became good friends with one of its members. Most others were quite a bit older, and there were many more women than men. But members would come and go, and among the regulars there were never any romantic possibilities. Even there, with people I enjoyed, discussing writing, I had to make an effort to speak up. I’m a listener and thinker. I take time to formulate what I want to say, and maybe I’ll speak up while we’re still on the topic, or maybe the moment will pass. Either way, it was good to have a weekly social gathering. Unfortunately, the group eventually fell apart, and there isn’t anything else on meetup in my area.

So I’m back to my spectacularly introverted ways, and I’m happy. Mostly.

Samuel Johnson lamented his indolence. And he, you know, wrote the dictionary. I don’t pretend to have any such lofty goals. I know that if Samuel Johnson could be both indolent and write the dictionary, then there’s hope for me, too.


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