I tell myself not to let my introversion keep me from learning new things or meeting new people. But ever since I started reading Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I can’t help but mentally wave that book whenever I am caught in a situation where I am more than happy to let my introverted nature take over, and say, “see! This book says it’s okay to for me to be like that! I’m not weird! You have to accept me for what I am.”
Today I was caught in such a situation. Bryan wanted to attend Jungle Beer’s (a local microbrewery) free flow party and as his boys couldn’t make it, I offered to accompany him. It was a small party of about 30 people in a small room overlooking the brewery itself. There were couches, tables and a pool table. When we got there, the party was in full swing. Every one was holding a pint, there was loud music and conversation.
I did what I do best. I found the corner furthest away from the hubbub, squeezed myself into a corner of a large sofa and started playing with my phone. Bryan sat next to me with his beer but he often left me to get refills or talk to the owners who ran the place.
I was quite happy where I was. I watched the people, although there was not much to look at, making sure I didn’t make eye contact with anyone as I didn’t feel like socialising, I rarely do. When Bryan rejoined me, I would talk to him as I refused to be the couple other people made fun of, the ones who would sit together yet were busy with their respective mobile phones. When he left again to refill his glass, I went back to chatting with my girls on facebook chat when suddenly, this girl bounced up to me and asked if the space next to me was taken.
I looked at the other 2 empty couches beside me and I hesitantly said she could sit if she wanted to.
She plopped next to me and started talking. She was a friend of the owners and she hung out there often. She asked how did I find out about the brewery and why wasn’t I drinking (designated driver). Since the only thing we had in common at that time was the fact that we were both at a brewery, we talked about the brewery for a bit. She suggested that I try their fruit beers and I said I would another time. She asked who was I there with and I pointed Bryan out. I started talking about his love for beers, which was the sole reason we were there at that party. I mentioned that even from our first date, he couldn’t stop talking about beer. beer beer beer. She laughed and replied, “yeah don’t you just hate first dates? I never know what to wear!”
there was a split second pause but if this had been a movie with slow-motion sequences, you would have seen me blinked very slowly in a pronounced way, my right eye brow arching slightly, a slight wtf frown forming, with an almost perplexed expression forming before quickly disappearing into thin air as self control kicked in and my lips twitched to form a benign smile. Time sped up and we’re back to regular speed again and I replied, “yes I know what you mean. Sometimes you wonder if what you’re wearing sends the wrong signals to the guy.”
And then suddenly we weren’t talking about beer. she brought up 9gag (oh gosh she’s from the 9gag generation) and it went on and on. I have nothing against her. She’s the really friendly sort who is more than happy to chat with anyone and make new friends. Sometimes I admire these people, able to talk about anything to anyone at any time of the day. But this was not my forte. As I maintained my smile and the conversation at hand (by that point I wasn’t sure what we were talking about anymore), I shot glances at Bryan and sent psychic messages to him to get his ass back. I’m not sure if it really was psychic powers or pure chance that he did wander back to us. The girl hopped up and joked that she didn’t want to interrupt our “date” and skipped away.
Bryan gave me a bemused look and asked if I were making friends. He knew me better than that. I kept my smile planted on my face as I described the painful conversation I just had. Again, not that the girl did anything wrong. I just don’t know how to talk to strangers as it doesn’t come to me easily. Some people are afraid of snakes, I’m afraid of small talk.
I wished I had a t-shirt that said “Introvert. Don’t talk to me.” Bryan said it should be, “I have enough friends. Fuck off.”