By Millie Muthoni
You have seen that meme that says ‘People always tell introverts to be more talkative and leave their comfort zones, yet no one tells extroverts to shut up and make the zone comfortable’ -cue the extroverts with all their snarky comments-. But I’m thinking, maybe you never shut up to make the zone comfortable because you don’t know what it’s like when everyone around you scares you. By the way get that right; we don’t hate people, we just fear you. Because we never know what to say or how to act around you. And walking around with that kind of uncertainty well, it does things to a person. Or are there introverts who actually hate and get angry at people just for seeing them?
Personally, I think I fall for everyone I talk to because I always get butterflies in my stomach. So to everyone who has crossed paths with me, I think this will explain a lot.
To the person who sat next to me in the bus then said ‘Hi’ to me, I wasn’t snobbing you. I just panicked. My throat wouldn’t stop clenching the air in it long enough for me to say hi back. So forgive the weird and blank look I gave you.
Hey, remember that time you told me, ‘Hey, can we talk.” And then we started talking about a whole bunch of random things until time was up? And we never had that talk but I said we’ll do it soon. We will never do it. Never start a statement with ‘We need to talk’ when dealing with me. I will evade you the way like poles repel.
My biggest lie is ‘Hey, I just had this thought. I have been rehearsing what to say and how to say it to you since the previous night. And when I call you, I have spent the previous hour running the lines in my head so it would really help if you did your part and stuck to the script.
If you have ever talked to me and I had this blank look on my face just staring at you. It seemed like I wasn’t listening, right? Let me clear things up, I wasn’t listening. I was trying to calculate how much eye contact is too much, too little or just right. But I suck at math so that is why it took forever. I was also trying to figure out what part of you I should look at now that the eyes are a grey area.
This is what texting bae looks like;
In my head: Is that too casual?
Deletes and types: Hello hello
In my head: Now that’s just weird.
Deletes and types: Hey, how are you? How was your day?
In my head: Was that too snoopy?
Deletes then thinks that maybe I should start this with the funny video of how my baby brother took the cat to the bath with him.
In my head: That’s too much visual information.
And by the time I have the perfect text it’s almost midnight so he just texts Good night. And the cycle starts all over again of how I should reply.
My pillow hates me. This is because some days I get home and I start punching it like it owes me a million dollars. Confrontation drains the life out of me. So I never get to yell at people the way I should. So sometimes I get home and I still have residual pent up feelings from an argument I should have had. So my pillow gets it. On the plus side years and years of punching has made it really soft.
Showing up on time for a meeting with someone and they show up late is a nightmare for me. Somehow, it never registers that they may just be running late. I go through this ritual of double checking my to do list to make sure I am actually supposed to do that thing and it’s not made up. Then triple checking my phone to make sure I got the year, month, day, date and time correct. Then quadruple check the text conversation to make sure we actually set up a meet. When it finally hits me that they may just be tied up somewhere, I start praying that they will call and cancel.
Most introverts somehow have an extroverted best friend that adopted them. I am a subscriber to that cliché. So on the rare chances that I can’t think of an excuse as to why I can’t do lunch, it always goes a little like this;
“You really love fries wewe msichana. You order them everytime.”
When really, the waiter’s presence just startled me so I forgot what it is that I wanted to order and the word ‘just fries’ came out of me.
How are you supposed to approach someone from a long distance? Do I smile? Do I maintain eye contact? How do I know if we are going to hug or just shake hands? How should I say hi? What should I say after hi?
I am always on typing on WhatsApp. I never quite figure out what to say so it just reads typing for almost an hour. Meanwhile on the other end, he’s expecting a detailed paragraph telling him about that time I was crossing fourteen falls and then I slipped and fell in the water. I got scared to death that the water will carry me away. Then I had to lie on a rock in a starfish position like lizard basking so that I can dry off. But all he gets is ‘I fell in the water’. See, why wasn’t I able to do that when he asked?
How do I tell my friends that it is not that I love eating, I mean I do love eating but when we are out, I am constantly putting food in my mouth because I never know what to say. So having a full mouth is the only way I can justify my being quiet.
I repeat, socially awkward people don’t hate people. It’s just that people exhaust our energies sometimes. That is why when I’m casually chilling in my bedroom then there is a knock, I just sit very still and make no sound and hope they will think that I’m asleep and go away.
So I hope my dear extroverts that you will start making the zone comfortable for us.
Addendum; The comment “She’s strange” has to retire. News flash that is not news. I know I am strange. I take the definition of strange to a whole new level