Saturday, October 17, 2015

The introvert's dictionary. It's not alphabetical because it's my dictionary and I didn't do it that way.

I took my boys to the Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Zoo on Friday. It was Ben's idea. "Animal Day," he said, when I asked him what he'd like to do on this rare day off for all of us.

Ben did not enjoy the saltwater part of the Aquarium. There were a lot of people there. A. Lot. Crowds. Hordes. Mobs. He didn't complain, but he cringed a lot.

When we got to the freshwater part, he seemed far happier. "It's better here," he said. "I think more people go to the saltwater one so they can see sharks. I like the sharks, but I don't like all the people."

Oh, I feel you, honey. I really do. 

I took a long, solitary trail run on Thursday morning and, during that run, I thought about the specific reality of the introvert. Well, I primarily thought about how goddamn amazing it felt to be alone in the woods and pushing my body to the point of endorphin intoxication, but I also thought about how amazing it felt to just be alone. And while I did that, I also wrote this dictionary/glossary/guide to introverts thing. 

Mephoria: The intense rush introverts experience when they are all alone and can do whatever they want. And no one is looking for you or calling you and no one expects you to be anywhere and no one is even texting you because maybe the battery in your cell phone is even dead. Gah. Yesh.

Youphoria: The particular joy that accompanies abundant, unstructured time doing fun things with one specific someone who totally gets you on a mind-meld level. I am ridiculously lucky, so I have a few of these people. You know who you are. I miss you.

Regretrovert: What an introvert becomes when everyone leaves you alone because you told them to, but then you miss them. Dammit.

Ohdeerface: That thing where the people who know you best see that you are DONE, just can't. any. more. And their heads kind of swivel up, like a deer who detects a threat, and they come over to you and put a hand on your shoulder and excuse you from whatever agonizing conversation you have been forced to endure, and then they take you home and hand you a book and don't even bitch about what a pain in the ass you are. (Thanks, Jim.)

Charging station: The place introverts go to briefly isolate themselves in a social situation, whether we are temporarily hiding in a bathroom at a party or maybe curled up in the corner reading for a few minutes at a reunion or even taking a surreptitious little walk around the block during a conference when we pretended we were just going to the bathroom. It's OK. We'll be back. Probably.

The ghost: What happens when an introvert leaves for a charging station and decides not to come back. Introverts don't leave, exactly. They just ghost.

Defcon 5: That thing where you're in your charging station and someone busts in and says in that infuriating, unintentionally accusatory way, "What's wrong?" or "Why are you so quiet?" or "Where were you?" Well, hey, Bargey McRuderson, here's a question for you: Why don't you just mind your own dumbface business?

Untroversion: What introverts practice when they have to interact with so many people so much and so often, and have gotten so adept at it, that when they end up disclosing during a conversation that they are introverts, the person they're talking to say, "No way! I would never, ever guess that." Winning. Also, suffering.

NOTTHESAMETHING: That thing introverts have to clarify when people express surprise that they are introverts, and they say, "You don't seem shy at all." Right. Because I'm not shy at all. 'Shy' implies fearful. You don't scare me even a little. But in order to function optimally, I need you and everyone else to just go away sometimes. NOTTHESAMETHING.

Occupational therapist: Most dogs are extroverts. Not all of them, I know. But most dogs. And if you are an introvert with a dog, you probably take your dog to the dog park and out for walks and stuff, and that thing where you interact with other people with dogs is your introvert occupational therapy. No copay, lots of unconditional love. Good therapist. Stay.

Introcceptance: The state introverts achieve after they spend decades trying to figure out why everyone else seems to want to hang out in big groups and you hate it more than anything, it is hell, and whywhywhy? And then you realize that yeah, that's just life for the introvert, and you figure out how to happily introvert your way through life and it is amazing. 

Funtrovert: What the introvert becomes when you host a party, and the people you love best are at your house, and you're simultaneously with your best people on your home turf, and also having a high degree of social interaction, and it is bliss because everyone there knows. They KNOW. And they will never, at any point, wonder where you went if you walk around the block, and they will never go Defcon 5 on you.

Waterboarding: Small talk, elevator talk, cocktail party talk, people on planes who are apparently looking for new friends, people who want to know what you're reading, those dead minutes at the beginning of a meeting when people talk about weather/sports/the day of the week/payday. Also, meetings. Also, elevators.

Shocktrovert: That jolt of recognition the introvert experiences when you're being waterboarded, and you suddenly realize the person you're talking to is ALSO being waterboarded, and you mutually confess your misery, drop all pretense, talk about real shit that is worth actually talking about and maybe even make a new friend.

Ironictrovert: That thing where you know you will have to interact with groups of people in a surface, social way that makes you want to die, so you read books and articles about how to do that effectively. Alone. All by yourself. You read. About how to talk to people.

Saints, martyrs, gods among men: The people who know, love, understand and protect introverts. You guys are so awesome. I love you so much. Now please go away.

Ben and I engaged in a lively exchange of ideas.