The last BDSM event I went to was with e, there were maybe 200 people there.
He is quite involved in his local community and knows pretty much everyone. Obviously, I didn’t know anyone.
We hung around together, whispering and laughing, having some drinks, talking to people, and at some point we drifted apart.
I spent some time speaking to a rigger about a book project he was working on while he explained in gleeful detail what it was and showed me photos of some of the images he had created for it. I spoke to another man about his long history in the scene and his links with and travels to Australia. I chatted with a man who had a fabulous laugh exactly like Eddie Murphy. I talked to a photographer about his work in the scene. I complimented a submissive man I saw on his latex police-style shirt. I chatted with a cross dresser who smelled deliciously like lemongrass and we talked about scent and hair products. I told a mostly-naked submissive server that she looked amazing and got a beautiful smiling thank you. I excitedly held hands with a man in a kilt and had him twirl for me while gushing about his attire. I flirted madly with two vanilla looking men who agreed that I was ‘rockin’ that corset’. I had a good night.
Hello world, I am an introvert.
When I tell people who I have never met (for example, online friends) that I am an introvert, they assume that I am somehow socially incompetent. That maybe I’m terribly shy, or lack confidence, or am awkward around people, or am in some other way unable to function well in social situations.
When I tell people who I *have* met that I am an introvert, they don’t really believe me because of the above assumptions that socially skilled people cannot be introverted: “But but… when I came back you were having a good old chat with the bartender!”
What being introverted actually means is that I find socialising completely draining. Other people exhaust me, and after I have been out there putting social energy out into the world, I need to hibernate and recharge.
I only really explain it to people who I expect to be impacted by it, otherwise it is irrelevant. I tend to use a vague ‘I’m anti-social’ explanation without any detail unless we really need to ‘have the discussion’. It is actually a difficult concept for many to understand because the world is mostly made up of extroverts: extrovert behaviour is encouraged and lauded, being a ‘people person’, or having a large circle of friends, or going out a lot… all those things are social success markers for most people.
This last weekend, I had a friend stay for two days, then I had lunch with another friend on Monday. I was socially tapped out. I had been emailing a lot with Jay, as is pretty normal these days, and he asked sweetly on Tuesday if we could have a voice call. I said I didn’t feel like it, but that we could talk again later on in the week when I was over my “uber socialising weekend”.
He accepted it, but then made some little jokey references about it in subsequent emails:
“It’s Monday here, Tuesday there. You’re like 72 hours from said ‘uber socialising weekend’…”
“But since you’re all tired from socializing three days ago…”
It made me bristle, because I felt as if we had talked about it, and I had assumed that he understood how it worked for me. But clearly, he didn’t. At all. I admit I got really cranky with him over it.
I sent him an article about introverts, and suddenly he ‘got it’, a revelation. Not just in relation to me, but in relation to other people in his life who, he realised in retrospect, were introverts, and he hadn’t understood them.
His revelation after reading the article made me realise that I am really rubbish at explaining it in a way that makes sense to people who struggle to ‘get it’, and I also realised that I am quite sensitive about it.
There is nothing ‘wrong’ with me, I don’t need to be ‘fixed’, it’s not an affliction, it is simply a way of operating that is not in line with the majority of expectations. It is actually much easier to explain shyness, or social anxiety, or something that people understand almost instinctually. Introversion, though, yeah, that’s a tricky one.
So if you are an introvert, deal with an introvert, or maybe just want to understand a little better what it means, here’s the article I sent to Jay:
Caring for your introvert * –Jonathan Rauch
* I have to add a caveat here that some of the stuff in that article is clearly debateable and the author uses a ‘holier than thou’ tone and sexist language that I don’t enjoy, but the basics are sound. And to all the extroverts in my life, you do NOT ‘put me through torment’, I enjoy you, and I am quite capable of setting boundaries for my own needs.
Edited to add: There has been a lot more information put out into the world about introverts since I wrote this post. In particular, Susan Cain released a book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” that got a lot of attention. I found an interesting interview with her here in Scientific American that had another clear explanation of introversion.