Is this thing on?

I’ve always been an introvert and an outsider. I think many of us feel that way at times, and some of us are right. For me it was the awareness that I liked playing quirky games with just one other friend and disliked team sports. With one friend we could cooperatively control the narrative and where we wanted to go (literally and figuratively), but with team sports I was told where to go and what to do, whether I agreed with those directions or not. Also, I didn’t get picked for teams until I was the last one on the bench. No one wanted me on their team and I don’t blame them. I can be a little confrontational at times, especially when I don’t agree with the rules.

In my teens I told my dad I wanted to join the military like he did (US Naval Academy, Marines, and Army Air Corps), but he laughed and said I’d wash out because I could never take orders. I think he was right.

As an adult I listen to my husband complain about his students’ parents and co-workers at his school who function like I do: ADHD all over the place, can’t finish a linear thought, and can’t find the way from point A to point B without checking out all the detours. He deals with it too, but his brain handles things differently than mine. He has a sense of what it takes to complete a task and he does it. I respect that, because that is not how my brain works at all. And that’s ok. We balance each other out fairly well most of the time. Not always, but we’re working on it.

Holidays are especially difficult. I want to run from social situations, the obligatory chatter, gift giving, and dealing with food (I have allergies, my hosts usually don’t). And yet, when I’m not invited, it hurts to be left out. I keenly feel the absence of social warmth. When I’m in the thick of that warmth, I want to run from it, hide somewhere, and pretend it’s just another day. And yet, I know we need it to survive in a human society. I also know a lot of you feel the same way because you tell me about it when we meet at social events like quilt shows. I HEAR YOU, I really do. I’m happy and smiling at the show because after 30 years in retail, I can coffee up, make it through the day, then go back home or to my hotel room and just be silent until the show opens the next morning.

You might be surprised to find my blog account has at least one introspective post like this one in the drafts folder for every year I’ve been writing here. I always write them around November or December, not just because I’m avoiding holiday cheer and all that, but also because of the stillness of winter around me. I like that. Although here in Northern California our “winter” is more like the rest of the country’s spring (GREEN THINGS EVERYWHERE SPROUTING OUT OF THE EARTH OMG BIRDS BEES FLOWERS TREES), there still is a sense of rest and peace. Honest, there is, if I could just find it. There’s a lot of traffic noise outside from shoppers getting their last minute gifts here downtown today and at night the bars are all still hopping, so ok, I lied.

Maybe you’re an outsider, too. You do the family things because you were taught that this is The Way. You bake cookies, share them with neighbors, make crafts with the kids at school, put up lights and a wreath and a tree, whatever. I applaud you. It’s difficult to be an introvert when everyone is trying so hard to come together and all you want to do is fall apart. Humans need warmth, social or otherwise. Right now my toes are numb because I’m on the second floor of an old house that has only one heater on the ground floor, so I get it.

I celebrate the Winter Solstice because it reminds me that for thousands of years our ancestors all over the world felt the turning of the earth from darkness to light, and that’s important to me. You can still say “Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Holidays/etc.” to me and I’ll say it right back to you. It’s a celebratory season. Tomorrow I’ll celebrate Christmas with my in-laws. They do decorations, a big tree, the whole shebang. My husband and I don’t bother. We could, but we don’t. Besides, I have a moral objection to cutting down trees and putting them in the house. It’s a fire hazard and bad for the tree. I still think your decorations are pretty.

And yet… ’tis the season for being at least a little social, as much as you can handle it. The night is long and full of terrors. Oh wait, that’s Game of Thrones. Sorry. The night is long and spring is far away. A little warmth will do you good.

Light the candles, bake the cookies, mull the wine. Let’s do this.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. journeyhouse says:

    Oh, you got it so right. Laura

    Sent from my iPad


  2. indigocarole says:

    Spot on, after years of joining in to be sociable. I find it harder these days to connect or care. It must be the weather, all that rain. Enjoy the green. Spring will come. Nature has no choice.

  3. rrregena says:

    I enjoy a good balance of social time and “can the world just leave alone for 5 minutes” times. After all the holiday hubbub, I’m ready for down time before tax prep, birthdays and anniversaries and moving. I don’t relish not being 5 minutes from my kids or having to find my way in a new community but I will crave the social more than solitude for quite awhile.

    1. JD says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I feel a bit awkward in social situations and can’t wait to leave, but I feel hurt if I’m not invited. I need the social contact just not as much as others seem too. All that chatter, always trying to say the right thing…….never been very good at it and I’m getting too old to change now.

  4. Sherry V. says:

    As I have gotten older I find that I enjoy my alone time more and more. I do have a group of friends that I get together with monthly, or as we are able, but even then after an hour or two I am ready to run home.

    People make my head hurt.

    1. journeyhouse says:

      That is where I moved away from and I still miss it terribly.

  5. Judy L. says:

    You have penned my internal thoughts and struggles so precisely that I am comforted in being alone and yet knowing I am not alone. Thank you!

  6. Tori says:

    Last year this time, I moved to the mountains of northern New Hampshire and bought a house up a long steep driveway where I can’t see anyone and no one can see me. Want to come visit and be quiet with me while we stitch or knit and drink tea?

    1. journeyhouse says:

      I messed up the comments, but I moved from there several years ago and still miss it terribly. On top of a mountain overlooking the valley. Lucky you.

      1. Tori says:

        Where are you now? I’m in Bartlett. I love it.

  7. Robina says:

    Thank you! I’ve just seen this and it brings tears to my eyes… This is exactly how I feel (except I did like playing soccer and wish my knees were still up for it). I’d really like to be into all the holiday stuff (at least in Australia it centres around Christmas and there is not as much social pressure to celebrate other holidays), but I get to the start of December and I just want to curl up in a corner and not try to dredge up a smile for the next event. We have a lot of our end of school year events happening at the same time and it feels like one “thing” after another. It is so much easier to socialise with one or 2 good friends who get you, rather than 20+ people you can only say “Hi, how’s the kids?” to and never hear the end of their answer. But you are also right in if I’m not invited, I then feel hurt. What is going on in my head? I think this year I will try for balance, I might ask my family what they really care about and go from there.

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