Monday, 29 April 2013

how to surprise an introvert



You probably know, if you know me, that I am somewhat introverted. I’m a bit of a nightmare I guess, [I know I drive Ian crazy sometimes!] but it’s not my fault and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It just means that I don’t deal well in some social situations. I’m not like, a recluse or anything; I have friends and I go lots of places and do lots of things, I just find some things harder than others.

Like the phone.

The telephone is not my friend.

My iPhone is my friend, in fact if I lost it I think I’d curl up in a ball and just cry but the telephone as a means of communication, the part that means answering a call and actually talking to people?  If I could permanently disable that then I would. In fact, if you’re not my Mum, or my boyfriend, or Helen then if you call me then I likely won’t answer.
 It’s not because I’m being rude it’s because when my phone rings my immediate reaction is one of panic: Who is calling? Why are they calling? What will I say? Can I get away with not answering right now? By the time I’ve answered all those questions it’s likely gone to voicemail anyway and I heave a sigh of relief. And then send a text asking if you’re ok. I send a text because I do want to talk to you, I just prefer to do it in a way that makes me feel less pressured: it works in your interest too – you’ll get a lot more out of me on text or email than you will in a phone conversation because unless I already feel totally sure of myself around you, if you try and talk to me on the phone I’ll just feel awkward and spend the whole time not sure what to say, with no idea how to punctuate the pauses, and trying to find a way to hang up.
Likewise if I text you first then I respond much better to a text reply. Those people that call and say ‘it’s just so much easier this way than sending texts back and forth’ are wrong: it really really isn’t. Also, I very rarely pick up the phone and make a call – not even to the people up there I said I can happily chat too, so if I never call you, please don’t take it personally.

I struggle with small talk. Unless it’s not about me. I like to listen, I’ll sit and let you talk about you for hours but as soon as someone utters the dreaded words ‘so, how are you’ or ‘enough about me, let’s talk about you’ I dry up. I’m like a deer in conversational headlights and I’ll fumble over my words and the silence will be so awkward you can taste it and I’ll just know you';ll think I’m boring when actually I don’t really do all that well when I have to just talk. I’d much rather listen to you than panic over what I’m meant to be saying.
[You know when you’ve won me over because you won’t be able to shut me up. We’ll talk shit on the phone for hours and you won’t be able to get rid of me. There are not many of you around.]

I would probably, nine times out of ten, choose my own company over that of most other people because it’s just easier. There is zero pressure on me when I’m on my own. I don’t have to worry about how I look or what I’m supposed to say or do, or who else is going to turn up and throw me off guard and am I going to be introduced to new people and end up looking like a fumbling idiot whilst they smile politely and wonder why whichever friend I’m with puts up with such an imbecile.

I’d pick a restaurant or a quiet bar over a club every single time because I am much more comfortable with an intimate gathering than in a big crowd of unknowns; I’d rather meet you for coffee [with my book safely in my bag] over pretty much anything else because it’s safe and easy and I am well within my comfort zone. I will leave my comfort zone, but you have to let me know well in advance – don’t text me [defo don’t call me ;) ] at 8 and ask me to meet you in a bar with ten folk I hardly know at half past because I won’t be able to make it. I’ll be busy sticking pins in my eyes.

Those people that make plans with me and say things like ‘bring your book’ or ‘don’t forget your iPad’ are the ones that know me best. Those people that see I’ve had a bad day and settle me on the sofa with a glass of wine and a film and no effort to make me talk about it are the ones that know me best. I will talk your ear off once we're close enough, but I'll sit in comfortable silence with you just as often. And I'll love that you'll let me do both.

When it comes to going places and seeing people I like to plan, I like to be prepared, I like to know who I’m meeting and when and where and for how long, so if the people I’m meeting aren’t in my immediate circle I can gear myself up to it. If I get the chance to prepare myself then I’m fine; I’m more than fine – I often have so much fun. It’s when things that are supposed to be fun are dropped on me that I struggle.

That’s what made this weekend so strange. Tomorrow is my birthday; this weekend has been full of surprises. This is a problem for me: generally, I dislike surprises, something to do with the not being prepared thing, so I’ve been a little apprehensive about what this weekend would hold. It’s not that I’m ungrateful – far from it.  I love that there are people who care enough about me to make that kind of effort. I am beyond touched. I could cry – I very nearly did. It’s just that surprises make me nervous; the unknown makes me nervous so knowing that my Friday night and Saturday day this last weekend were to be taken up by surprises? It made me nervous. I didn’t know what to wear, I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing and when I was picked up at 6pm on Friday night I had a knot in my tummy and I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it – that I’d lose my words and my smile would look like a grimace and I’d come off as being utterly awful and ungrateful when I actually I was so touched at even the gesture that I didn’t quite know  how to express it. When 6pm came around I actually felt sick.
The surprise turned out to be a drink with Ian’s Mum and sister followed by a surprise meal with my family: my parents, my brother, Ian, his family, my niece and nephew. It was perfect. It was a group of people I know and love. There was a cake shaped like the Mad Hatter’s Hat. I walked into the room and Daisy launched herself at me and my parents were smiling and I just wanted to cry. I had the best night.
On Saturday I was taken for a massage and a haircut and then lunch with Ian’s Mum and sister – again a surprise, again I was nervous, and again I had the best time and then on Saturday night I turned up to an apres ski night organised by Sooty only to find Ian had organised a party. A surprise one. My worst nightmare. Except, my boy knows me. It was just in the small room at the back of the pub. It was just Ian’s sister and her husband, Helen and Dan, my brother, my Mum and a handful of other friends that I’ve known for years. There were maybe 12 people all arriving and leaving and different times,, all of whom I know and love. It was the best.

I still slept the best part of yesterday afternoon, because as odd as it sounds no matter how much fun I’ve had, I always need to curl up in my bed and recharge for a while afterwards, but I exceeded my expectations of my own self. I did not fall apart at the seams at the thought of a surprise even though I was texting Helen about my nerves.  My entire weekend was unknown and I loved it. I loved it because I am lucky enough to have people in my life that care enough about me to make the effort to make my birthday special and that know me well enough to know what special is, to me.

Once again I am here thinking that I truly am so very blessed and once again I am reminded why I prefer to keep my circle of friends so small: the people in my life are diamonds, and I’d have a handful of diamonds over a mine of coal any time.

Thank-you people that I love, for letting me love you and for loving me in return.