Introverts United

You probably know most writers are introverted. It’s why we picked that profession—because we can do it alone, in our homes without having to put on real clothes and no one tells us what to do (except our characters but that’s another blog post for another day).

When I was a kid, I was painfully shy. I know that might be hard for people who know me well to grasp, but it’s totally true. I would rather miss out on opportunities than face people or interact with them. I was never popular and I sure as hell wasn’t the kid who would be in charge on the playground.

I was a doormat for a lot of years. From elementary school through high school. I was naturally drawn to people who were more outgoing than me. These were the smart kids. The ones who were in theater. Me? I’m just the one lurking in the back of the classroom trying to get through the day without really talking to anyone.

As I’ve matured (have I?) into adulthood, I’ve realized that life will pass you by if you don’t interact with people. Also, they think you’re an asshole. Or because you’re the quiet one, you’re silently plotting someone’s demise. “It’s the quiet ones you have to be wary of,” they say.

Well, YEAH. That’s true. The quite ones are the ones you never know about. And if we’re a writer, we likely ARE plotting someone’s demise that pissed us off—by putting them in a book and killing them off.

Also, I don’t accept social invitations. Or if I do, it’s because there has been some amount of peer pressure. It’s not that I *don’t* want to go. I love you and I appreciate that you thought of me enough to invite me. It really means a lot. It’s just that…well, if it’s a party and there are going to be people there I don’t know except for maybe one or two people, then I know I’m going to feel uncomfortable, look at my phone a lot, and glance longingly toward the door to try to figure out my exit strategy.

Even in situations where I DO know everyone, I feel this way. I think it’s just part of my DNA. I constantly wonder when I can leave without being the first one to go or looking like a jerk. I don’t participate much in the conversations because I feel rude trying to butt in and also, I’m wondering how to get out of there.

And office parties. OY. I really hate these the most. Be it baby showers, birthdays or retirement parties. DUDE. I so do not want to go to these things even if means I get to be unchained from my desk for a half hour to an hour. You have to sit/stand there with a fake smile plastered on your face and pretend this is the best part of your day. Really I only show up for the cake/cookies/cupcakes.

And potlucks are just a no. My husband ruined me on this because his philosophy is YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THEIR KITCHEN LOOKS LIKE. And he’s right. All I can think about now is how that food was prepared and if they washed their hands.

Also, I hate to plan work events. My husband will say, “But you’re good at it.” Yeah. I know how to plan a party but it’s just such a giant pain in the ass and someone always, without fail, complains or wants to know why I didn’t offer gluten-free/grain-free/paleo/vegan whatever dishes for the one person who wanted it. (Like, I am not a miracle worker, okay? I can only pick what the caterer offers.)

RWA Conferences are very hard on me, too. While I love going to the workshops, I am not the type of person who will march up to you, say hi and introduce myself. I stick close to the circle of people I know best. So please don’t be offended if I don’t accept your invitation to get together. There is no real downtime during conference and I feel like I have to be “on” from the time I get on the plane to the time I step foot back Texas soil. It takes a lot of mental energy and I’m just drained by the time conference is over.

I have to give myself an internal pep talk and mentally prepare for these types of situations. I have a very low threshold for jackassery in public situations. And then afterward, I really need to decompress. Sometimes that involves a nap. Mostly it involves wine.

Are you an introvert? If so, how do you handle social situations?

By Michelle

I wish you all could be inside my head. The conversation is sparkling.