Semi-Introverted Dilemma

At nine a.m. yesterday I woke to my mother peering anxiously in my doorway. I checked my phone: she had called me seconds prior. Considering I’ve slept through fire alarms and almost break-ins, I imagined she began walking up the stairs as she hit the call button, knowing that the gentle buzz of my phone under my pillow wouldn’t have much of an effect on this eternally heavy sleeper, try as she might. She made her way toward my curtains as I let out a disgruntled mumble of indecipherable words. Pulling them tightly together, she alerted me with gentle haste that there were men climbing their way to my windows to work on them. I didn’t know what “working on my windows” specifically entailed, but as I recognized the clatter of an extending ladder and gravelly voices yelling back and forth, I wrenched myself out of the comfort of my bed. I’d wanted to sleep in. I shouldn’t have stayed up so late, but I’ve been thinking that particular string of words for most of my life.

Today, the clatter and yelling escalated with the addition of what I’m assuming is some sort of very obnoxious drilling. I haven’t paid enough attention to think about it, just gotten through this time with my headphones on at near-full volume. My curtains are still closed now, giving my room a constant early morning vibe.

I love the warm rush of sunlight greeting my cool skin every morning. I love the way my room is transformed into a place full of life the moment the sun filters in. Like it’s ready for the day to begin, excited to start something. Anything. I love that both the daily grey sky and chilly air have finally given way to familiar warm breezes and the need for sunglasses until the sun goes to sleep.

But when the sun finally came out of hiding, I unintentionally dove into it. I don’t often  like keeping my curtains closed, that sad hermit-feeling of being closed off to the rest of civilization. I don’t like staying in one place for too long, the walls of my bedroom seeming to shrink by the second. I don’t like living in my own head for too long either, but that’s a little harder to get away from.

It’s frustrating being an introvert who can’t stand to be alone for too long. And being alone for two days, shut off from the world, has been a challenge I’m adjusting to.

I used to avoid social gatherings like the plague, but I’ve since taught myself how to turn on my outgoing switch when I need it. There was a time when I was addicted to that sort of thing: the way I could adapt to any social event. It was a game only I knew I was playing. My newfound party trick was actually talking to people instead of hiding in the corner or not going at all, and it wore me out like you wouldn’t believe. I was constantly drained, running on fumes 99% of the time, but I was tired of the version of myself who read books alone in her room or stared emptily at the walls. I spent my whole life being that person. The discovery that I could transform into whoever I wanted was a challenge I had never been brave enough to explore until, suddenly, I let go and just did it.

I was in a constant state of busyness, filling my schedule with friends and jobs and bible studies and any new thing I could possibly try. Every minute of every day was accounted for. That in and of itself isn’t exactly a bad thing, but I realized my intentions were wrong when I found myself in a situation with one particular unplanned evening all to myself. Somehow the night had gone unnoticed, left completely blank on my calendar. I sat in the breakroom at work that morning texting friend after friend after friend, fingers frantically asking for anybody to spend time with me. The panic of going back to who I had always been built up with every rejection and I didn’t know what to do with the sinking fear residing in the pit of my stomach. It was foreign to me, a deafening pounding in my ears that yearned for someone else to quiet down because I was tired of doing it myself.

Looking back I think I was afraid of getting addicted to being alone again. I wasn’t ready for the excitement of new people, new activities, new experiences to die down yet because if I spent too much time alone I thought I might have permanently retreated back into my turtle-shell state of living. I don’t like being closed off to the rest of the world, but it’s an easy trap to fall into.

That’s when I learned about the difference between wanting to be alone and hiding. Wanting to be alone and being lonely. Wanting to be alone and using my introvertedness as an excuse.

I’ve been realizing lately that when you put yourself in an unhealthy situation, sometimes God lets you live in it for a while to make you realize the importance of it. To remember it for longer than to get out of just one single situation. He also has a tendency to take away the things that you use as a crutch. Friendships and busyness quickly became a crutch for me so it came to a screeching halt out of nowhere, something beyond my control, and I was forced to reflect on myself.

So now I’m here, quite some time later and thankfully past that weird phase of life, but the confusing push and pull of whether or not to socialize still hangs over me from time to time.

I could have gone out last night with a group of new people I don’t know very well. Maybe after a day of going crazy from working at home all day, it would have been good for me. It wouldn’t have been a waste of time; I could have gotten something out of the experience. But lately I’ve realized that it isn’t just people (generally speaking) I like to spend time with; it’s certain people. It’s those who don’t so easily make me feel drained. The ones who I can spend hours upon hours with and still feel happy and full of life. That’s not to say I should only ever do that simply because it’s what I like, but I simultaneously feel like I get a lot more out of being in the presence of someone I am comfortable with and I feel like I have more to give in return.

I will likely never be the kind of person who helps people, who talks about God, who does anything very useful in the type of changing environment that requires talking to a lot of different people. I have an appreciation for the people who can connect with others in that way, but I know I thrive with deep personal one-on-one connections and that’s what I am seeking to make the most of. I will try new things, I will put myself in other environments, but I won’t try to be somebody I can’t be because that would be a waste of who God made me to be.

Life is a balancing act. Socialize, but make time for yourself so you have enough to give back when you are around people. Go where you are comfortable because you can thrive there, but don’t close yourself off to new possibilities.

This is starting to sound like a motivational speech, as many of my rants tend to do. My point is that sometimes God puts you in uncomfortable situations to teach you an important lesson, but we are living in a generation that tells you you have to constantly do things that scare you. Yes that’s true to a certain extent because trying new things and making connections and other things of the like can often lead to figuring out who you are, what you are good at, etc., but you don’t have to live every second of your life moving so quickly that you don’t take time to reflect on any of it.

Doing what scares you doesn’t mean wasting time in places you don’t think you belong. It doesn’t mean you have to do things you don’t take much of an interest in or that won’t add something to either your or someone else’s lives. Unless you believe there is a legitimate purpose for doing said things, “living life to the fullest” does not look exactly the same for any two people. Simply go where you believe you are lead to go. 

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Choosing “Magic”

When you’re a kid, life has this almost surreal quality to it that tends to get lost somewhere along the path to adulthood. It’s more than simply allowing reality to set in, like the realization that money is really difficult to come by and relationships aren’t constant rainbows and butterflies. It’s the heightened emotions that made life a little more interesting. It’s going to Disney World and totally believing you’ve been transported to another planet. It’s scraping your knee on the sidewalk and convincing yourself that nothing could feel worse than what you feel in that moment, until your mom comes along and scoops you into her arms and you’re instantly reminded that that’s your favorite place to be. It’s black and white emotions running at a mile a minute.

Adulthood is more like thousands of shades of grey (insert inappropriate, overdone joke here). I struggled with accepting this fact, this lack of constant rollercoaster emotions and noticing the everyday minute details that make life extra special, because I was convinced I would never feel it again.

I thought life was never going to be as interesting as it used to be. In some ways, maybe I was right. I won’t feel the same glittery magical array of emotions that comes along with an endlessly imaginative childhood brain, but that doesn’t mean I have to turn into an unfeeling robot. My decisions now carry so much more weight than they used to. I get to have a say in the path I take in life. My emotions are, roughly, within my control and just like my decisions, they carry more weight than they used to. Maybe they aren’t as magical, but they’re bigger.

I’m never going to have Prince Charming sweep in on his white horse to save me, but I will probably have a caring partner who loves and supports me. I’m not going to go to Disney World and believe that Winnie the Pooh is not a guy in a costume (sorry), but I can go on vacation and make my own kind of fun that is catered to my personality.

However, there is a familiar feeling of dread that tends to creep up on me this time of year when the holiday season has begun and I think, “here’s another reminder that I’m not a kid again” because I built up the holidays so much back in the day. “Will all the days I used to spend months looking forward to feel like just another day of the week now?” the pessimistic part of me asks myself every year.

Until the light outside begins to change.

Considering the fact that I live in South Florida, the changes of season here are beyond subtle. So subtle in fact that most non-natives, and a lot of natives too actually, don’t notice the change from summer to fall. But I can tell the exact moment when everything is different. Summer consists of hot wind, harsh bright light, and a constant buzz of life and excitement. Then one day, usually sometime in September, our little corner of the world seems quieter, the light outside turns into a soft golden tint, and the air is at least not deathly suffocating. It’s my favorite day of the year and I never know exactly when it will happen, which makes it that much more exciting. I usually end up skipping around telling people, “It’s fall, it’s fall, it’s fall!” which typically elicits a response that insinuates I’m clinically insane considering they are still miserably sweating.

But it’s the beginning of something different, something beautiful and dare I say a little magical. I like beginnings. They’re happy. Middle’s are nice because they’re comfortable and you’re invested at that point, and endings are an important part of life, but nothing beats a good beginning. All the excitement is just irreplaceable.

So, soon enough other people start catching on to the change of seasons and we collectively start drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, attempt to recreate crafts we found on Pinterest, plan our Halloween costumes before we even know where we’ll wear them, all because it’s fun. Do we always need a good reason to do something beyond it simply being enjoyable? (Within reason…dear Lord, please don’t use this logic as an excuse to be lazy or do drugs or anything else really stupid.)

So maybe life as a whole doesn’t feel exactly the same way it did when we were kids, but it’s still special. When we were younger, we felt everything with little to no basis for feeling it, whereas now we have legitimate reasons to feel the way we do. You will still feel that “magic,” as long as you’re willing to feel it. You can watch a Hallmark movies and feel absolutely nothing and mock them for being unrealistic, or you can love them for what they are and love that they capture the holidays like your childhood-self felt them. You can get annoyed when kids knock on your door screaming “TRICK OR TREAT,” or you can be friendly and realize that they’ve been looking forward to this all month and there is nothing stopping you from getting in on the fun in your own way. You can be upset that you went to your mother’s house for Thanksgiving and she bought food instead of making her famous homemade casserole-of-some-variety, or you can revel in the fact that you get a day to spend with those you love. Even if they don’t make your favorite casserole.

My point is that life changes when you get older and you can roll with it, making the best of every stage, or you can get swept up in “…but,” and never be satisfied. Everything may not be exactly like it used to be, but isn’t that exciting in itself?

The older you get, the more you get the chance to appreciate the out-of-the-ordinary moments if you choose to make the most of them. To experience a little less grey every now and then. And the fact that these moments don’t happen everyday makes the magical moments ones you won’t soon forget.


 

On a sidenote, happy Halloween! I’m finding out that, as an adult, you get quite a few different opportunities to dress up, which I think is pretty unfair to the kids. They’re the ones that live for this kind of stuff. I’ve worn a pig costume in a preschooler’s play, a cowgirl costume to a party, and this Tardis inspired outfit at work today. I’m exhausted. I had a few other chances to dress up that I didn’t take as well. And yet, kid’s typically get just the one day. Young me would be pretty unhappy if she knew this information.

drwhocloseup

If you dressed up this year, what did you wear? How did your view on the holiday season change from childhood to now?

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