I’m sitting here this morning laughing at myself. You can identify with this feeling, I’m willing to bet. I’ve just had one of those light bulb moments of clarity and my head is wobbling between “I am brilliant” and “I can’t believe it’s taken me all these years to figure this out”. You have to love those moments, don’t you?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is how the day started out…
I had a fitful night because I found myself spending time with the Should Monster. You know the Should Monster, that ugly little guy who rides on your shoulder, constantly reminding you of all the things you should have, could have, would have done if you were the highly functional, rational person you claim to be. I know that when the Should Monster is active it really means that I’m avoiding something.
The root of the Should-ing turned out to be simple. I have to go in to The Office this week. Yes, time to pretend to be an extrovert. I’m good at that, and I can handle the energy drain better than I would have before I raised my introvert consciousness. So I kept picking at the annoying, itchy scab of Should that was keeping me awake and irritable. The answer is…
I don’t know what to wear.
I am so tired of looking frumpy, which is how I feel when I go in to the office. I don’t have nice office clothes because I don’t need them. But I could have nice clothes if I really wanted them, so why don’t I?
My cat came and settled down on a shopping bag that has been lying by the door in my office for so long I have ceased to wonder why it was there. I used to be a champion pile maker, having stacks of things everywhere (and, yes, I always knew where to find things) but Cee has pretty much broken me of that habit and my office now just has a couple of very, very small piles of books. Three piles. Maybe a foot high each. So to have something else lying about, and have it been there for so long that I have ceased to notice it, made it quite suspect. When it crinkled under Charlie’s weight I really began to wonder what it was and why I had deliberately ignored it for weeks.
Scarves. Scarves I had ordered. I was happy when they came but they have lain untouched since that day. Why?
That’s when the light bulb went on in my head. Because they’re new. No on had ever seen me wear them before, and people were going to comment. They always do. And you know what that leads up to…. Small Talk.
I hate wearing new clothes because that draws attention to me and I get sucked into small talk.
I loved it when I was a kid because I went to parochial school, which meant I wore a uniform every day. I could always blend in. That was comforting. We moved for my senior year of high school and I lost my uniforms. Horror of horrors. Now I was being judged all the time and my introversion showed quite plainly. Thank goodness it only lasted a year and then I was off to college.
Fast forward to now. So here I am, burning up all this perfectly good energy by stressing over having to wear real clothes to the office, leaving my comfy sweat pants at home. And someone will say how nice it is so see me again and then compliment me on something new that I’m wearing and after I say thanks I won’t know what to say next. (Yes, I can compliment the speaker in return but that just delays the inevitable. I’ve tried it.) Then the typical embarrassing dead air hovers between us and I don’t have a script ready.
And now I’m feeling silly, but that’s OK. I like it when I figure out this old baggage and can finally let go of it. The Should Monster doesn’t look so scary any more.
Maybe someday I’ll have this all figured out so that I can handle wearing crazy clothes and funky stuff, letting my personality shine. I’ll either figure out what to say after “thank you” or be comfortable with the silence that ensues. I will be bold and comfortable in my introversion and ignore all else.
P.S. I wanted to start the introvert writing prompts today but I don’t have it ready yet. Stay tuned, dear friends…..
Hi. I’m Chris. I’m an introvert. Look for my ongoing series celebrating introverts (Sunday), writing prompts for introverts (coming soon, I promise) and introvert cartoons (Thursday), plus anything else interesting that I find in the meantime. Come and share with like-minded introverts. I also contribute to the new food blog Three’s Cooking, learning to cook from the heart, for the soul.