For Introverts Who Have Considered Social-Suicide When People Are Too Much
You know that girl at the party who drank just enough tequila shots to put her confidence level right under Beyoncé, so she’s boldly dancing around the party flirting, complimenting and inappropriately joking with everyone from the aspiring Instagram models to the socially awkward guys in the corner? Her comedic nature is exacerbated by liquid courage so the unsolicited commentary is undeniably hilarious and you can’t help but be at least slightly amused by her. She’s in the center of a small group of cute, well-dressed girls who spent the first 20 minutes observing the scene, but somewhere between Rihanna’s ‘Work’ and the third Drake song have become the lives of the party. That girl is me.
You know the girl who was invited to this same party, but she opted last minute not to go? After mentally picturing the acts of getting dressed, putting on makeup, driving to the party, interacting with people, dodging numerous unwanted sexual advances, then driving all the way home; she decided she’d rather chew glass. So instead, she spent Saturday night home alone watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. And she loved it. That girl is me.
Confused? So was I. For the first 23 years of my life I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how and why I could be both a social butterfly AND a hermit at the same damn time. On one hand, I love, love, love going out and being on the scene. I feel great when my social calendar is full and my cell-phone is ringing off the hook. I’ve been told on several occasions that I’m easy to talk to and arguably the funniest person on earth. I’m very opinionated, clearly well-spoken and I can talk for hours under the appropriate circumstances. People seem to like to be around me. However, on the other hand, I hate going out. I despise small talk; I find people to be incredibly draining and my idea of a good time is binge-watching an entire television series alone in my room.
I mean, don’t I just sound like a living, breathing Oxymoron? And to make matters worse society can’t quite make sense of me either. I’m good with people, so I’m technically a “people person,” but I don’t particularly enjoy people. I love parties and parties love me. I’ve even been called “the life of the party,” but sometimes death sounds more tolerable to me than attending a party. I’m not weird or awkward and I don’t have social anxiety. In fact, quite the opposite is true and I thrive in most social settings. I have lots of friends, almost too many. And I love being around them BUT I love being by myself more. Most girls of normal social competence LOVE to shop and workout and see movies together. Everything must be done in groups of two or more. I however, prefer solitude for these sacred rituals. Shopping and exercise and movies are like therapy to me; therapy that CANNOT be successful if I have to do them while chatting and gabbing. I mean, how much exercise could you really be doing while gossiping about boys or work or hair? And I will surely miss key parts of the movie if I have to hear about how the main character reminds you of your ex-boyfriend. IT’S MADNESS!
None of my family or friends seemed to understand — “But you’re not shy, you’re so outgoing.” – they said. Apparently, everyone who knows me or even follows me on Snapchat find it hard to believe that I don’t actually like attention. And during a time when social media popularity is more of an achievement than … say intelligence or good moral character, it’s simply unacceptable for a millennial woman to spend so much time alone unless she’s ugly or weird. I am neither, so where does that leave me? Confused and marginalized by society, that’s where!
As you can see, this is a pretty serious issue that I’ve been grappling with for all these years. I can never enter a social situation without a 10-minute inner dialogue between the butterfly and the hermit. It usually goes something like this:
I’m young. I’m only twenty-three. I should be out partying every single night. I have my whole life to sit at home and do nothing. Don’t be a grandma! … But also, I’m kind of tired. And my bed is very comfortable. I really want to finish this season of Shameless. And I don’t feel like talking to people. Plus, I have pizza. Maybe next time.
Sometimes my inner social butterfly prevails. I go to the party and either have a great time or instantly regret my decision. Other times my inner hermit wins. I stay home and either have a great time or instantly regret my decision. Either way, it’s torture. About two years ago, to make sense of it all, I self-diagnosed myself with a condition called ‘bi-social disorder.’
Bi-social[bahy soh-shuhl] adjective.Characterized by both intense desire and extreme avoidance of human interaction.
This is a term completely made up by Breanna Hogan. Any use of the term without proper credit/acknowledgment to its creator is unlawful and considered intellectual property theft!
I’d been trying to find a cure or at least a balance for my condition when one fine day I came across something even better: People Magazine. Inside said magazine was an article about comedian, Amy Schumer. Inside said article was an excerpt from her autobiography. Inside said excerpt was a description so accurately illustrative of my feelings, I couldn’t have written it better myself:
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re shy. It means you enjoy being alone. Not just enjoy it–you need it. If you’re a true introvert, other people are basically energy vampires. You don’t hate them; you just have to be strategic about when you expose yourself to them–like the sun. They give you life, but they can also burn you …”
– Amy Schumer, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo.
And there it was. An actual name for my condition. A name that I’d heard hundreds of times before, but just like 99 percent of the world, I had the wrong impression of the term. Suddenly, I felt like my whole life was put into perspective in that very moment. Everything became clear and so many things made sense. I no longer felt conflicted, or guilty or elderly because of my equally intense love and hatred for social interaction. I AM AN INTROVERT. I did a little research and discovered that there are all these articles and books and quizzes and support groups for people like me. There are even tips on ways to deal with those pesky extraverts without resorting to violence.
So this is for my fellow marginalized millennials. For those of you who don’t read books for fun or bother to look up words in the dictionary. For those of you who have been misinformed about what you truly are. For introverts who have considered social-suicide when people are too much … a parting message from Amy Schumer:
… if you’re an introvert like me, especially a female introvert, or a person who is expected to give away your energy to everyone else on the reg, I want to encourage you to find time to be alone. Don’t be afraid to excuse yourself. Recharge for as long as you need. Lean up against a tree and take a break from the other bears. I’ll be there too, but I promise not to bother you.”