In April of 2018, I finally wrote about a topic that had been on my mind for years. The title of the article said it all: Introverts: We’re NOT Just Broken Extroverts. The response was something along the lines of, “Thank you! Someone finally said it!”.
Remember back to when you were in High School? Yeah, not great memories for me either. I was the weird kid and lucky if I had one friend during each school year. I tried so hard to be “normal”…have friends, chatter, pass notes, talk on the phone.
It never went well. It still doesn’t go well. Phones and I are not on speaking terms, pun intended. I’ve grown to hate the ringy-ringy contraption so much that I jokingly like to say that Alexander Graham Bell should be boiled in hot oil and then kept on bread and water for six weeks for (supposedly) inventing that infernal contraption.
I jest, of course.
Most people just love to talk on the phone. More power to ’em. Secretly, I envy them. God seems to have taken away my Daily Word Quotient and given it to them in triplicate. They just never seem to run out of things to talk about.
Ah, that Daily Word Quotient. I remember once driving around with three friends who were raised in very large families. Side-by-side in the backseat, simultaneously all three of them yapped incessantly, narrated every single detail of what was going on, argued, bickered, read every single freakin’ street sign aloud and generally had a wonderful time together.
Meanwhile in the front seat, I had a headache. But it was quite an eye opener into how the “Talkative Half” lives. I’d never experienced anything like it growing up as an only child in my quiet little introverted family with parents who enforced Quiet Times.
But surely, there are other quiet people like me out there. Perhaps you’re one. If all of us were talkative, there’d be no one to do the listening, quietly cogitate on what’s being said, break it down, apply our superpower of overthinking everything and then write about it in our journals, websites, blogs and books.
A lot of talkative people assume that quiet people are blank. No one home. Nothing going on. “Hellooooo! Anybody in there!?!”
They couldn’t be more wrong!
We quiet people are buzzin’!
All day long, my brain whirls in a silent, interior monologue that is deafening. Thoughts, ideas, memories, cogitation…all grist for the Narcissism Meets Normalcy mill. Just because I don’t think outloud doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot going on. So if we’re startled or even annoyed when you speak to us, we beg your pardon. You just interrupted a loud internal conversation.
Conversely, if you call me up, I won’t be able to think of a single thing to say once the pleasantries are dispensed with. So I fake it. Flip the Fake Extrovert switch. Start babbling on about This and blethering about That because awkward silences horrify me even more than blethering and babbling. When we hang up, I slink into a corner and feel like a fool. The Me on the phone is not the Real Me at all.
I’m not the only one. Just yesterday, a friend told me about a dear friend she only corresponds with. They never talk on the phone. Reminds me of that old cliche, “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.”
It’s not unfriendliness. It’s not being antisocial. It’s not even a choice. Through nature, nurture or a combination thereof, some of us are wired to be quiet and that’s okay.
If you want to get to know the real me, don’t call. Don’t invite me for coffee. Don’t suggest we “get together.” Between my infinitesimally small Daily Word Quotient and my horror of making eye contact (waaaay too intimate!), I will be one unhappy camper. Tried it. Many times. No matter how nice my friends were, it was always a relief to have solitude again.
So write to me, Dear Friend. Direct Message. Chat. Email. Even snail mail.
You won’t be able to shut me up. I’ll type your ear off! Some people run at the mouth. My friends and I froth at our keyboards.
Some people open up and shine with verbal communication. Then there are the others. Fascinating, deep, charming people who just can’t put the riches of their minds into verbal words…but it all comes pouring out in the written word.
In The Horse and His Boy, C. S. Lewis quoted an old Narnian proverb: “Come, live with me and you’ll know me.”
I would reword it: “Come, write to me and you’ll know me.”
Thanks for reading! For more of my writing, please visit my new food blog, Reluctant Cook, Cheap Foodie.