The Plight of the Introvert: I have difficulty socializing with other people even though I want to

I happened upon a frighteningly accurate compilation of comic strips with regards to introverts. Finnish introverts to be precise but a lot of them, I found, rang true for me. Proof that I am an introvert through and through, no matter what ratio of introvert:extrovert you may have met me at. I’ll put a link to the comic compilation at the end so that if only for that, you at least have incentive to scroll to the bottom.

Now, my introverted vs extroverted tendencies are really just unpredictable. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I want to talk to the whole world about everything. Other times I am a clam and I want to remain a clam, no efforts in trying to pry me open will get anywhere.

In the past month I have found myself being more often than not my introverted self. Beyond what side of the bed I wake up on, my introvert:extrovert ratio is also affected by certain situations. A lot of people are silent and unsure around people they do not know but are chatterbox, life of the party individuals among people that know them a little better. I am no different. I may in fact be a litmus test for this proof. I have been mostly new to many places and situations in the past couple of months. Circa finishing school, I find myself having to make friends all over again. (I can’t believe some people list making friends as a hobby, as something they enjoy.)

I was recently at a Python meet-up, Python the programming language. The meet-up took place in the evening so my energy reserves were already spent. If I had my way, I would have been home-bound the moment that ended but as luck would have it, I was sharing an Uber home with one of the most sociable guys at the event! He lives in the same neighbourhood as I do. The luck of the introvert, let us call it that. The meet-up ended and I hinted at this guy that we really should get going but he was not done yet.

Here’s how that went down. I walked up to him while he was having a conversation with someone else, I wanted to be that looming presence that lets you know there’s something you need to do. In this case, GO HOME! It didn’t work. His attention was drawn to some other conversation so he angled away from the guy he was talking to and I was left there with this third guy, me just awkwardly smiling, both of us staring at each other(he was waiting for the extrovert to finish the other conversation and turn back his way…) until I couldn’t take it anymore so I mumbled, ‘I’m sorry I’m so awkward.’
* face palm *
* cringe *
He must have thought that I’d said my name because he told me his, I wonder what he thought my name was. Ha ha. Very short small talk ensued after which I wandered off.

I spotted someone I knew from uni, he was in the middle of a discussion with a bunch of other people. Another extrovert in full swing! So I headed off to that group of people. Silently attaching myself to them, hoping they would be kind enough to create some room in the circle and take me in, make it appear to outsiders as though I fit into the fold and praying they would be even kinder still and despite taking me in, completely ignore me and not expect me to contribute in any way. They did the first, took me in. They then tried to engage me, I dropped the ball, smiled, closed my eyes, counted to 10 and hoped when I opened them they would have moved away from the fact that I can be so awkward. When I opened my eyes, they had. (Okay, it did not happen exactly like that, but you get the point.)

Soon after, I started working at this new place. I love it…let’s start there. That doesn’t mean it does not come with its challenges. They are as close knit as a bunch of people who work together can be and my biggest nightmare is trying to break into an already existing social circle. Doesn’t mean I won’t try…it is not like I have a choice.

I however find myself predisposed to keep to myself, to almost not even try to break into the fold that is their circle because, well, my overactive imagination beat me to it and…I am not even sure what my worst fear is. That they will not like me? That they will take out machetes and gobble me up for Friday lunch? (Friday lunch is office lunch.)

I find myself peeping from my desk to the lounge eating area when lunch time comes round. A creature of habit, I ideally would have my lunch at 1.30, but sometimes 1.30 will come and go and I will still be at my desk peeping, willing the crowd to thin so that I can finally venture forth. Not thin completely, I do not fancy being a loner forever, but just enough so that I can have one or two lunch companions, an easier fold to try break.

I find myself…calculating when I go to the water dispenser. If certain factors never came into play, I might just die of dehydration one day. Be found at my desk, shriveled up, 2 meters from the water dispenser. Why? There is a certain individual who sits right beside the water cooler who I just do not know how to talk to. So when my water bottle starts approaching empty, I look for opportunities to venture to the dispenser. I will his phone to ring so that when I do go, there doesn’t have to be a short awkward exchange as I fill up my bottle. Or I call upon the forces of nature to summon him to the bathroom, or really just anything so that he vacates his seat.

That being said, I do not actually let my fears run me. For some reason I am predisposed to fear social interaction with strangers but I will myself to sometimes do those things anyway. Go to lunch before the crowd has thinned or go the water cooler and have that awkward exchange because…well…because we all need some level of human interaction, even those of us that find it hard to initiate. Also, two Fridays have gone by and they haven’t had me for lunch yet so maybe my imagination was just being a bit wild.

I heard this line in a movie preview and it pretty much sums up this post: “I have difficulty socializing with other people even though I want to.”

Here’s where you can find the Finnish comic strips…Enjoy!

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1 Comment

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  1. 1

    Kat… Story of my life!
    Your office lunch story sounds like the first couple of weeks at my current workplace… Good thing is that it gets so much better… 🙂

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