Is it normal for the introverted to self-stigmatize as much as I do? There are times when I feel utterly useless and dysfunctional because I’m so unable to present myself out in the world with a group of people in a social setting such as family gathering and reunions, staff retreats (when I was able to work) and friendly gatherings, to which I’m so seldom invited that I have no practice or experience in conversing with anyone on any subject at all, which only ensures that I’ll likely never have friends to invite me to anything at all.
I’m just terrible at conversation. I never like speaking with people. It’s a safe bet that I’m not good at it, that I do it wrong and that I inevitably embarrass myself and cause others to be embarrassed for me. I never know when I should speak. I always wait for someone to finish speaking their piece before attempting to chime in, only to have someone else take the opportunity before I can. Then, there are the times when I finally get to speak, which is intimidating as it is frightening. I hate my voice; it causes me such discomfort and anxiety that I scarcely say anything, even when the opportunity presents itself to me. Then, there’s the rare event that I actually do have something to say, which I find important or that I’m passionate about, in which case, I tend to get deeply involved, only to be shut up by those whom I’ve bored, shut down by those whose ideals, sensibilities or interests are contrary to my own, or I’m simply talked over as though no one hears or cares that I’m speaking. As a result, I usually sit silently.
I’ve yet to meet a person or a group of people who genuinely care to hear what I’ve got to say and who’d allow me to say anything at all, providing, of course, that I’m feeling impetuous or intrepid enough to speak.
In a social setting, whenever I’m present in some group, I sit silently, listening to each person speak. I listen intently, wanting very much to join in. When I sit there in silence, people are often led to believe that feel that I’m too good to converse with the likes of them. I’ve been called, stuck-up, snooty and even an asshole because I don’t talk to many people. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that I’m just bad at it, I’m afraid to and that I’m more-or-less a loner. A loner, but so very lonely.
I quite literally have no friends, and by friends, I mean people whom I’ve personally met, who are willing or able to spend time with me in person. It’s my fault, mostly. I do keep myself guarded. So many people in my life have never wanted to have a thing to do with me unless there was something that I had that they desired, be it a car, that I could chauffeur them around; a place for them to crash, which I’ve not offered to anyone lately as I’ve been burned too many times before; or to be used as ones sex slave, which has really only happened once, but for a sustained period when I was down and out and only contented because they’d given me a place to stay.
True, I have my reasons for being so elusive, but it has become a double-edged sword. Because of that, I realize that I’m very resistant to people’s genuine good will, courtesy and friendship. I’m unable to allow people to treat me with kindness, expecting to be double-crossed, misused or else, to have someone call in a favor that I’m in no position to refuse, but not comfortable with granting, if I could at all.
Here. Right here, online. This is the only place where I feel confident enough to speak freely. I know I’ll not be interrupted. I know that I’ll have the time to think and speak from the heart rather than feeling the need to rush in order to utter a peep before someone else commands the floor. I know that I’ll not bore anyone or lead them to feel as though they must humor me so as not to appear like an ass or else so as not to hurt my feelings. Here, if someone doesn’t like what I have to say, if they don’t care, they can scroll on. I’ll never know they were here in the first place.
I try with all my might not to judge myself too harshly for the way I am. I know that I’m not the only person who is this way. But, I just can’t help it. I feel so antisocial, but filled with a longing to be like the others who have friends, cliques or groups to which they identify and belong. What do you do when minority means “you”? I haven’t yet figured it out. All I can do is the best that I can. It amounts to very little. At least I’ve still got my online friends, the characters in my head whom I’ve created and have come to know as my friends, and my books.