Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The strength of being an introvert

When I want to do something, I do it.  I don't need a posse.
Introvert: Turtle or Porcupine?
Introvert: Turtle or Porcupine? (Photo credit: sbpoet)

I wrote that note to myself ages ago, when I decided this was a topic I could write about.

I wanted to join Girl Scouts when I was little. I didn't know anyone in the troop when I started. I didn't need my mom to sign on as a leader.

At one point, I was the only person on my high school's Forensics team (that's speech and debate, not CSI, if you were wondering). Sometimes that meant I ate lunch with another team. Sometimes it meant I ate lunch with a book. Either was cool. I like books.

Even when I was lonely, it wasn't "I can't do this, I'm alone." That never occurred to me.

It serves me well now.  Chris goes out for drinks with friends? Cool, I take my Kindle to a restaurant he doesn't much like (or heck, one he does). I don't want to see that movie? I'll go see this other one and meet you after. Boys' weekend for him means a bus to DC for me. My membership to the Met only included me. I have, on various occasions, bought myself wine, flowers, or chocolates.

Extroverts don't seem to comprehend how I can do that, how I can just go to a movie, or a restaurant, or a vacation by myself.  It's embarrassing, it's lonely, it's not any fun.

And if you're an extrovert, it very well may be lonely and no fun. Beats me. I find it peaceful and plenty fun, but that's a classic Your Mileage May Vary thing.

It's not embarrassing, though. At the movies, they assume you're meeting your group inside -- assuming they care. On vacation, they assume you're there for a conference -- assuming they care. And restaurants? Well, they may care a bit more, because tables for one do look a little awkward. Doesn't really bother me, but I still have a tactic I use frequently to avoid it:

Sit at the bar.

It may not work when it comes to fine dining (or it might work fine, but with a different menu), but half the places I regularly eat at in my neighborhood are either gastropubs or bars with especially good pub food. Pull up a stool, order a beer, try the nachos, or buffalo mac and cheese, or chorizo puffs, or tuna tartar, chat up the bartender if s/he's not swamped. If the bar is empty, they're glad you're there at all. If it's full, they can't tell who's with whom. Maybe you'll strike up a friendship with a neighbor. Maybe someone of your preferred gender will slip you his/her digits. Maybe you'll just enjoy a good book and a good beer.

But you'll come home knowing you had a good time even when "everyone else" was too busy to hang out.

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