Call it shyness. Say it’s a way to internally process reality. I don’t know what it really means to be an introvert–I just know I am one. Sometimes I forget, because I was raised by an extrovert and she gifted me with the tools I needed to function in everyday conversation. Now, maybe the real issue is that I’m out of practice. The last two times I’ve been to social outings I’ve felt a growing sense of anxiety over my interactions with others. Even with people I’ve known for a while now. Where do I stand? (Seriously, where am I supposed to stand in this giant room?) How do I observe conversation without seeming non-participatory or anti-social? Does anyone really want to be here right now?
I suppose there are people who genuinely feel energized by the group atmosphere. The question is whether they get crippling anxiety during long stretches of silence or on a weekend where they don’t leave the house or change out of their pj’s. (Although I doubt that state of being would be sustained for long unless somehow forced.)
I don’t really know what I’m trying to say, other than I’m becoming more aware that my extroversion muscles haven’t been exercised lately and I remember a time when it didn’t feel like this. When perception didn’t have so much weight in the outcome and my younger self was blessed with self-forgetfulness.
My hero was John the Baptist back then–that voice crying out in the wilderness. I got the impression that people didn’t dwell on his dietary restrictions or avant garde wardrobe but the message he proclaimed. Sometimes invisibility seems like a good option in order to bypass the awkward moments. Maybe if I dress in nondescript clothing no one will notice me. My pride is crippling. It is a neon arrow in the mind directing all thoughts upon the self.
I wonder if John was an introvert too. I’d like to think so. He enjoyed the quiet sounds of the desert in the mornings and a close knit community. But when he spoke, no one saw or heard him. They noticed only the object of his discourse. He was invisible for all the right reasons.