One thing, I've recently come to learn about myself is that I'm an introvert. INTJ forever. I always suspected that I was one but never knew what introversion truly meant. Growing up, I was always that shy, quiet, bookish kid. Now I know it was maybe more introversion than shyness. I have no qualms openly talking about controversial subjects such as sex or wearing outlandish clothing.
I was a shy child. I loved reading. I was that weird 6th grader reading 1,000+ page Stephen King novels. The other kids would give me dirty looks for not only reading when all of my work was done in class, but for also willingly reading a book with so many pages. During middle school, I always had a book with me, that I'd read between classes. Around that time, is when I got into Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler books. One summer in high school, I decided to start reading only classical literature, which included Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Catcher in the Rye, A Clockwork Orange, George Orwell. Seriously, what high schooler willingly reads such things outside of English class? During the summer and weekends, I'd stay up into the wee hours of the morning reading. The internet hadn't become a thing yet.
I remember always having a distaste for bullshit small talk. It wasn't until I was a teenager, that when someone asks "How are you?" the response should be "Fine, thank you. How are you?". Not that I don't care how people are, it just seemed nonsensical to me to say such things and not truly mean them. But it's the American way, I suppose. I also hate bullshit small talk about the weather or the local sports team.
In high school, some people thought I was a snob because I was so shy and didn't talk much. To be honest, if someone talked to me, I was always very polite. But I was never the kind of person to make the first move. I was always afraid that I'd be rude or intrude on personal space if that person didn't want to talk to me. Or maybe I'd say something accidentally offensive. I still feel this way as an adult. If something is truly important, than the effort will be made to engage.
My mom always gave me shit for not having a bunch of friends in high school. She always wished I had tons of girlfriends calling me all of the time, because that's what she had in high school. I had friends in high school, but no one close. I didn't mesh with anyone quite like that. I was in classes with most of the smart, AP kids. But many of those kids, were also the ones in sports, student council, etc - just not quite my scene. The kids that were into art and alternative music, were in the non-AP classes, and they were also into drugs / alcohol. Something that scared me off at that age. I never truly fit in. I would have loved to have had some fellow female friends who wanted to have discussions about music, politics, art, history, but there were no other females I knew like that. At least the male nerds had their own group, but alas no groups for the lady nerds.
In college, I did branch out a bit more socially, thanks to the internet. The internet and text based communication has been a Godsend for me. I'd much rather email / text / instant message you vs. call. Although, face to face interaction isn't so bad. I prefer that over phones, oddly enough. I like text based communication because I can better craft what I'm going to say.
One of my silly fears, is that I'm not going to get my point across in the right way. This can still happen with text communication. But when I'm on the spot, I flub words or I put in filler words like "um" or "you know" or "like". I find it to be horribly embarrassing and a confidence killer.
This is how much my dislike for phones goes. Even calling the local pizza place or Chinese take-out is enough to send me onto the verge of a panic attack. I know this sounds horribly ridiculous and silly. But apparently it is something that some fellow introverts also feel. Not that the person answering the phone to place my food order, really gives a flying fuck whether or not I flub my words, but I do care. When calling to place an order, I'll rehearse what I'm going to say in my head so I don't sound stupid. I'll rehearse the potential conversation several times. Crazy, I know? And when I can't get together the nerve to place a phone food order, I either starve or make myself a peanut butter sandwich vs. eating yummy pizza or Chinese noodles. Thankfully, now many places allow you to order food online with minimal human interaction. It's amazing.
During my college days, I'd spend some Friday and Saturday nights alone in my dorm room. Usually, I'd be browsing LJ, downloading mp3s, and IM'ing with other loners. I remember feeling like a pathetic loser for doing so because all of the "cool" people were going out and partying. Not that I really wanted to be at some lame frat party or a crowded bar, drinking shitty beer, but I wouldn't have minded hanging out with people and having intimate conversations. And in reality, spending those weekend nights alone, weren't all that terrible. If I enjoyed them, then so what?
I used to enjoy going out on the weekends as an adult. The hubby and I would often go to a movie, a new restaurant, maybe even bowling. But this was also back when life was less busier and my job was less demanding. I had more energy for such things. But now, most weekend evenings, I'd rather be home. Preferably in my comfy pants, with a cat, and a glass of wine or a cup of tea. This down time can be amazingly energizing, but it often takes hours and hours of downtime to just get one or two hours of charged up Amanda. In this down time, I like to read / peruse the internet. I probably do too much of that. If I'm not doing computer stuff, then I'm probably plopped in front of the TV with my latest craft project and binge watching TV. It's all wonderfully restorative.
I'm finding that it takes more and more rest to restore me. But I'm also way more "on" than I have ever been. Versus being stuck in some dark lab corner for my job, I'm now stuck having to interact more with fellow co-workers. At least I have my own office now, which helps, and I don't get drawn into idle (and exhausting) chit-chat as much.
I'm also more social now. I find that forced group interactions are the best way for me to meet people, if not I find anything else weird and awkward. My neighborhood is oddly quite social and I've gotten to know quite a few of my neighbors. It's very strange in this modern day. Other people I know, may only know the people directly next to them. Over 100 of my Facebook friends are my neighbors. It's a good thing. But it means I am involved in quite a few neighborhood activities and gatherings. There's the monthly Bunco game night. Then there's the neighborhood Garden Club, which I somehow was made President of? There's also the summer dinners at the neighborhood swim & tennis club. And don't forget about the random parties and other social gatherings over the year.
I do rather enjoy hanging out with my neighbors. Many are quite older than me. I like hanging out with the old ladies, especially since many of them aren't just about their grandchildren. They have many interests outside of their offspring. We talk travel, books, history, politics, food, and all sorts of intellectual conversations. I love it, but when I have the energy for it. There have been many nights after socializing, that I just come home and retract into my craft room cave.
And on top of neighborhood gatherings, there's also a knitting group I knit with on occasion, I'm becoming active in the local American Chemical Society (ACS) chapter, and there's also a fellow group of tiki-philes, that I hang out with. 10 - 15 years ago, I would have never thought I would know so many people let alone interact with them on a regular basis.
So tonight, the hubby is out, solo with the other tiki-philes. I bailed last minute. After a meeting this afternoon for the ACS group where I had to be "on", I was a bit wiped out. I could handle some socializing but limited, but that wasn't going to work for the hubby, who works from home now, and is craving social interaction. I feel lame for bailing for not "feeling well", but the downtime is rather nice. But self-care, is important, right? My self-care just means lots of downtime.