Introverts gotta introvert

March 12th, 2017

For many years, I’ve had a special phrase that comes to mind, unbidden, when I think I’m doing OK but it turns out that I’m really not. It is “g*dd*mnmotherf*ckingpieceofsh*t”. This phrase—really one single rapid-fire sesquipedalian word—is the proverbial canary in the coal mine, and its surprise eruption means that I need some quality downtime, NOW.

It took me a long time to recognize the significance of “g*dd*mnmotherf*ckingpieceofsh*t”. When it springs to mind, it’s always because of a minor inconvenience—a drawer handle catches my headphone cord and yanks it out of my phone; the Podcast Addict app playlist doesn’t line up the way I want it to; a strong gust of wind blows directly into me while I’m running or biking, making me expend more effort; a Blue Apron recipe calls for me to cut the stems from yet another bunch of kale or zest one more lemon (note to Blue Apron: I WILL NEVER, EVER WILLINGLY DO EITHER OF THESE THINGS AGAIN). Rage floods me, far out of proportion to the event, and it flashes into my mind: g*dd*mnmotherf*ckingpieceofsh*t. And suddenly I realize that I’m much more stressed than I thought I was.

Today was a g*dd*mnmotherf*ckingpieceofsh*t day. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with work/other obligations/personal issues for a while, and I’ve had zero hours of downtime over the past two days, so I knew it was coming—I just didn’t know when, and I thought I’d be able to force myself through the things I had scheduled for the afternoon and make it safely home to relax for the rest of the day.

Nope. Sitting in Pret-a-Manger in the hour between church and a voice lesson, I found myself physically cringing at the terrible music (I loathe R&B), frustrated as I tried unsuccessfully to get a white noise app to work on my phone to drown out the terrible music, my hands balling into fists so that my nails dug into the skin, internally shrieking because the entire world just felt difficult and uncontrollably awful. G*dd*mnmotherf*ckingpieceofsh*t. And then I realized that even if I were to go to a voice lesson, what would happen is this: My teacher would ask me to do something, and I would try but not get it perfectly right on the very first try, and then I would burst into tears.

So I went home. A couple of hours of puttering around (dishes washed, laundry done, counters cleaned) and just lying on my bed, even though I didn’t quite get to sleep, fixed me right up*. And that’s usually all it takes—time ALONE, away from people, away from having to interact and empathize and respond appropriately and think of things to say, all things that are just too hard when I’m emotionally or physically fatigued. Time alone, and enough sleep, are miracles.

I realize I’m incredibly lucky to be able to slam on the brakes when I need to, and that very few people have the time or the resources to introvert as deeply as I do at times. If I ran the world (which I will never do because actually I would HATE that job), I would totally set aside a continent or two where introverts could spend a week or a month or a year at a time—whatever they need to be able to regroup and become functional again.

* Well, mostly. When I went to get quarters so I could dry my laundry, and the convenience store not only didn’t have quarters but gave me change in dimes, I almost lost my sh*t all over again (srsly what kind of business operation has not a single quarter on the premises, and why can’t dryers take other coins or cards anyway, and why do some people have to make doing laundry suck so much?).

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