2.23.2018

What People Misunderstand About Me

So, I was looking through my journaling prompts and this one really caught my eye:

 What’s the one thing that people always misunderstand about you?

JUST THE ONE? angst. But there's SO MUCH to tell.

Actually, the first thing that came to mind when I thought about that question, is how people always assume I'm friendly or social or outgoing.  I actually talked about this in another entry:

"I can't imagine you not being social!" or "You're so social!" No, I'm a faker, I hate all of you, and you're annoying, go away and leave me to the garden. But instead of expressing that, I smile and nod and say thanks....

So really let's talk about it in depth, since I never do.  What people see from me is most likely an eager hostess, who loves to talk and have meaningful conversations and probably interesting stories and more social grace than you'd expect from someone raised by wolves in Appalachia.  I don't know when this shift happened, but it was sometime in adulthood.  As a kid and teenager I was more of the quiet weirdo who wore homemade Led Zeppelin shoes and a trenchcoat.  Haha.  Truthfully I had no desire to stand out or interact, because I'd never been urged to do so by my family and foster care was not the place or time to blossom into a socially developed human.  My parents, my dad in particular, actually lectured me to keep my 'head down' and stay out of trouble.  I think this likely came from his time in prison, as I've heard others who have learned similar, say so.

Whatever the cause, I was not urged to be social or friendly under any circumstances.  My parents were borderline xenophobic, and held themselves and us in high regard; we were better than others and it was by their grace that they bestowed conversation upon people.  (I still maintain characteristics of this mentality today.)   Add to that the fact that I was abused and lived in poverty; I had all the traits you'd expect from a child who endured that environment. Yet there must exist in me some charm that I'm unaware of, because people started talking to me when I was an adult and began enjoying my company.

I'd say I started to come out of my shell my final year in high school, and when I moved to Utah at 19  I really began socializing.  Again I don't really find myself witty or interesting or fun to hang out with but others disagreed, and I had friends and went to parties--a lot of it was superficial, but a lot of it was also genuine.  Still, my introvertedness stuck out like a sore thumb.  I cried at the prospect of spending the night at a friend's house when I was around 20--I only ever slept at home and being away from home for that long was too much to bear.  I honestly thought I was insane for awhile and just suffered through these idiosyncracises, before I got older and wiser and had a better handle on who I was.

As it turns out, I much prefer written communication to verbal.  I prefer online friends to friends in person.  I hate and avoid eye contact.  The vast majority of social courtesies exhausts me and smalltalk makes me want to kill someone.  Even genuine and fun encounters are really terrible for me.  Many times I've been out with friends, either drunk or sober, and my friends are having an obvious blast and comment on the fun we're having and my inward response is basically


The good thing about being me is that I am happy to eschew every single appropriate fraternization and be a total hermit.  I guess other than my work commute I was a complete shut-in for...five, six? years.  It was glorious.  Maybe I was coping with all the shitty forced interactions that partying and having friends involved...who knows? 

I really found a happy medium in Sweden.  Swedes are notorious for being awkward, quiet shut-ins who ignore everyone.  The part that isn't so well-known is how Swedes are behind closed doors: unnaturally warm, caring, concerned, honest, loyal.  To be friends with a Swede is to be friends with a true person, instead of one of the multi-facted Americans (not that one is better than the other, I'm the latter myself.)  Somehow in this society of "it's okay to not talk to strangers" I did a lot better socially and really found myself enjoying hosting.  Hostessing? Does it matter?  I like to take care of people I love, that's it--if I could do that remotely I probably would.  

So fast forward to today.  I can socialize, I can party, I can have guests over and enjoy entertaining people.  But I hate it.  People seriously underestimate how much I hate it.  I go into a state of depersonalization every time I have to maintain eye contact with someone.  I struggle when holding the simplest of "how's the weather" dialogues.  And yet, because I am caring and warm, people automatically think I am also social and love to entertain.

I don't.  I really truly hate it.  It's a part of life that I endure rather than enjoy.  And when I say this it's always met with "oh yeah sure me too" or "I get it, I'm a quiet person too!" I'm not fucking quiet, man, I just HATE being around other humans!! It's not just smalltalk, it's not just forced interactions, it's every single social event and close friend that I have.  One of the reasons my friends are so special is because they know, understand, or appreciate that I need my space, and for some reason they keep me around despite my hermit nature.  

So! Let's clear up this misunderstanding...just leave me be, I truly hate human interaction.  And no it's not "just for strangers" and no it's not because I'm "mean" (though I am pretty mean!) and it's not just "being an introvert."  It's an actual aversion like a vampire in the sunlight and you should count yourself extremely lucky if I show up at your party--it means I do care about you very, very much.