What do you call an introvert that seems like an extrovert when around people he’s really comfortable with?
Nothing. You don’t call him, because apparently you assume he’s busy being a crazy social butterfly, fending off people wanting to spend time with him.1
Today was just one of the days I realized this.
I got the crazy idea to text a group of people. Five couples, to be specific. A few guys I went to school with and have known for more than half my life plus their significant others.
It’s only been a few hours, but I am not really hopeful, for some reason.
I first asked if anyone had time to go have dinner on the weekend of my birthday, in two and a half weeks.
One of the couples replied that they were busy. Their acoustic trio has a gig the day before and tickets for a musical on that day. Fair enough.
After realizing that the weekend before would actually be better for me, since my birthday weekend also is the weekend of the wine festival my orchestra organizes.
So I suggested going for that weekend instead and offered to kill a few bottles of wine with whoever joins me on the actual birthday weekend.
Couple 2: We won’t be available on your birthday but probably could do something on the weekend before.
Couple 3: no reply yet. I know, it only has been a few hours, but I don’t really expect a timely response anymore. I really like them, and it’s mutual, it’s just that they’re notoriously bad at replying to text or picking up their phone, something that hasn’t gotten better since they had their kid a year ago. I still tried. You never know.
Couple 4 and 5 I only added just in case they happen to be in the area. They live 200 respectively 700 or so kilometers away, but who knows, I might get lucky.
That’s just one occurence, I know, but it feels typical.
People seem to assume I’m busy or something even if I tell them I’m usually not. Hell, I’d probably jump at ANY opportunity if someone texted me and said “hey, let’s go get a burger/movie/ice cream/go bowling/throw rocks at stupid people.” I’d drive an hour for any of that.
“Why don’t you reach out?”
When I was a kid, my parents described me as shy. I guess I kinda am. Once I warm up to people, it doesn’t show in conversations. Certainly not on twitter. Some of you have met me, have had dinner with me, played Cards Against Humanity with me, went to the zoo with me, even travelled with me for a bit. You’ve met me at my best and happiest. Among people who wanted to spend time with me and made it clear.
Sure, I meet people every week(ish) at orchestra rehearsal, but I don’t count that as spending time with friends. It’s a thing I do, but that’s mostly it. I also have tons of coworkers and usually have fun with them, but work is the focus then. That’s it.
On any given working day, the average number of words spoken to people I don’t somehow work with or that I buy food from is zero-ish.
Usually, I get home from work and spend the rest of they day talking to people on twitter and IRC, maybe watch a tv show or movie on bluray or netflix.
I used to meet up with couple 3 a lot, before they had the kid, for regular board game nights. That died down after a while, when more people we played with got busy and parts of their own lives (university, job) changed.
Sure, I could ask them, the other local friends or some of the coworkers that don’t live two hours away from me to do stuff, but it’s not that easy to me. They do have lives and partners and other friends of their own. They have other stuff they do regularly that eats up some time. And there’s the little fact that I already feel imposing when I ask some coworkers if they mind me tagging along on their lunch break. I know they don’t mind, I’m pretty sure they’d tell me if they did. But still, it’s how I feel, can’t change much about that. I occasionally do join them when time permits, but if that sometimes feels awkward to me, imagine how difficult it is to be the one to constantly have to ask people to spend their free time with, if almost nobody else ever initiates.
A former coworker who’d moved away is now back in the area, only a 25 minute drive from where I live, less from work, we already met up for dinner once, vowed to do that more often, I guess that’s something, and I’m really glad.
Other than that: sure, I have my “social circles” on twitter and irc and other people I mostly talk to via the internet, but having some of your closest friends being anything between 200 and 10.000km away, I still sometimes am really fucking lonely.
Ok, that’s enough, brb, gonna go donate to Syrian refugees. If you can afford it, think about doing it. I suggest this place to start: Pat Rothfuss’ blog with a link to his worldbuilders fundraiser
- Another acceptable answer would have been: Lonely. Really fucking lonely. [↩]