Agony of an Introvert

I just got a last minute invite to go out and I said no. It’s not that I didn’t want to see my friend, or that I don’t enjoy karaoke. It’s that I would have to work myself up to it and I didn’t want to spend the energy. These things I have to build up to and must prepare for.

I compare it to getting ready for a job interview. Picking out the right outfit. Readying the answers to the questions you will get asked. Making sure you look nice. Getting directions to the place. Make sure you got everything you could need. It is hard enough to get into that space in your head where you are confident and ready to tackle the mission ahead of you without it being sprung on you at the last second.

As an introvert, or at least for me, that all has to happen in my head to go to a social event. Especially when the people you are with are going to be with are mostly people you have never met before. If my friends had invited me over just the two of us or with people I knew I would have said yes. Or I’d like to think I would have. If she had invited me out a few days ago for tonight I more likely had said yes. I could have set my mind to it, warmed up the car before getting in.

Also the day before I had gone to an important event with speakers with a few people I know but I had to introduce myself to people I didn’t know. Half a dozen job interviews in one sitting. I even ducked out early. I could have just sat there and ignored people but where’s the point in that?

Crowds don’t bother me. I actually enjoy people watching at a busy mall. There is no expectation of interaction with anyone in that situation. I also worked in sales and customer service without anxiety problems. They are coming to me or I am approaching them with a purpose that is not personal. I’m good at figuring out what a customer wants and putting the right product in their hand and closing the sale.

I am also comfortable on a stage. I deal fine with the butterflies. But it’s a stage. I am almost always prepared to be there and to interact with a crowd. I know why I’m there and why the audience is there. I know the pretense. I also have the “job interview” prep time.

I wish the switch from Hermit Toby to Social Toby was easy to switch but is like my folks old TV that we needed a pliers to change the channels. Once it was set it took a lot of effort to switch. But once it was set it was fine. I watched a few infomercials because I was being lazy.

If I had made the decision to go out tonight most likely I would have enjoyed myself. I would have put on my interview face, cranked some feel good music on the drive there and been ready for the evening. Maybe done “What a Wonderful World” for Karaoke and met some great people. When the evening was done I would have been even more drained than I am now like after a job interview. Wondering how I came off, overanalyzing every conversation in my head. Nothing I hadn’t done a thousand times before but still drains you.

My anxiety, or whatever you label it, does hurt my social spontaneity. It’s a tradeoff we all have to make, some more than others.


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