A couple of nights ago, I talked to my dad and we had some great laughs. Hearty ones. We are both chronic invitation dodgers, party avoiders and hanging out skipper outers. We both thrive on solitude, and recharge energy alone, enjoy our own company, but have had deep friendships with a few individuals for a long time. For example, my best friend has been my friend for 17+ years; his best friend has been his friend for 45+ years.
We shared strategies on how to avoid multiple social engagements and laughed so hard at our methods, because they do work. Introverts. I’m so much like him it’s comical, though physically, I look more like my late mother (who definitely was an extrovert, albeit a sweet one; not annoying).
My dad told me about his youth where he would watch kids play and observe; he preferred to play alone. He told me about his 20s in Jamaica, when he met my mom and people would invite them to stage shows and he would usually decline, but she would go. He said that other men asked him was he jealous and he said “for what? It’s not like she’s ‘leaving’ me.” Unlike some men, he didn’t tantrum at the idea of her going out for fun without him. (Sidenote: it’s incredibly ironic to me how he is less patriarchal and less sexist [though, admittedly not feminist either] than men my age; my dad will be 70 soon. I am 33. So the whole “in the old days…” speeches that some Black men use to justifiy the sexist oppression of Black women today falls on non-listening ears for me…sorry.) I miss my mom every second since she passed away 11.5 years ago, so any tale from before I was born I love to hear. She used to tell me so many stories; it was her gift—being a great story teller.
We then started to talk about how when someone invites us somewhere we think of how much we hope they cancel the plans so that we can stay home. We laughed so hard at this. I told him how I wish for traffic, rain or the person to cancel so then the onus isn’t on me, though ever since I said hi to 30 a few years ago, I kind of care less about people being angry with me over this. Some people have received the hint, so I’ve seen a decline in invitations and expectations by at least 50% in the last 4 years or so. Sweet.
Though I’m an introvert, I have great friendships. I have decent to very good relationships with family members, depending on which member is in question. I have healthy self-esteem. I have confidence. I don’t fear people, unless they actively mean me harm. I do go out; to libraries (love), parks, museums, galleries, gardens, beaches, thrift shoppes, antique stores, college campuses, used bookstores, or movies with friends or family. Occasionally, I do restaurants with 1-2 people. I’m “normal”…whatever the hell that means, right? I just am like my dad; probably not interested in an overly social…anything.
This is why social media works for me (well, the times when it’s not an awful, bullying, character assassination, false accusations-filled, hellhole that deeply wounded people use to destroy each other for sport) at times because I can talk to people with similar interests, ideological positions and goals. I can do this while still sitting alone in a quiet room. This is cool. But actually, even social media can drain my energy as an introvert because it still impacts my emotions, thought processes and situations, so I LOG OFF as well. I stopped the “24/7 always available” social media thing in 2011. Deleted many profiles. And last week, I unfollowed/unsubscribed from a TON of feeds of people/info. Digital cleaning is like my social media version of dodging offline socialization. My dad doesn’t use social media, or even texts, but I swear he would “get it” if I explained to him that our dodging activities work online too.
Since some people read “introvert” as weird loner and “extrovert” as maniacal attention seeking weirdo, I want to be clear that I’m fully aware that these extremes do not capture the nuance of MBTI, personality, or culture. And sure, there ARE some people who fit such extremes (unfortunately I’ve been accosted by the extrovert extremes before) but most do not. Here’s some links that clarify: MBTI, MBTI Foundation, MBTI tests, introvert and extrovert basics, how to care for introverts, Psych Today’s links on introversion.