I am an introvert. Always have been for as long as I figured out what an introvert was. Mind you I grew up in a pre-internet era. I was the first kid in my town to have a computer and the internet (this was 95 ish)… I was slapped in a class with all the other geeks the school council could find and gave us computer to study as part of a pilot project… we were along in the universe. Fast forward twenty years and computers are used daily by everyone everywhere.That’s irrelevant.
But I was the guy watching anime from other people’s bootlegged tapes during lunch hours at school. I was terrified of the cafeteria and to this day, you won’t find me eating in public for any longer than it is necessary for me to chew properly and finish my plate. Rarely do I ever extend a meal or go to a restaurant. Mostly with wife and family. I rarely ever see anyone else, even people I respect and actually like. I’m just not that guy. Sometimes I’m fed up listening to my music, but I keep my earbuds in my ear so people won’t talk to me. I’ve put on white noise at work for significant portions of time and actually enjoyed it.
I used to think I was fucked up growing up. I had no social media to stumble upon something like an introvert meme that could tell me, as a kid, that the way I was living didn’t make me fucked up, it just made me an introvert. I really would have liked that.
Flash forward twenty years and I life in a pretty dense part of town in a pretty large city, Montreal. I absolutely adore it.
Mind you I still dread the looks of people eating and drinking at all the terraces throughout the city. I still keep my head straight and walk with a sense of purpose so none of them would dare stop me and talk to me.I still dread the fuck out of that. It’s not going anywhere soon. But the thing about a dense city, is that you can hide in plain sight. Everyone’s so busy, you just put on headphones and go about your business. Boundaries are in your heard rather than physical. You can be seated right next to someone in a coffee shop and still not feel the social obligation of talking to them. It’s amazing.
There’s also, perhaps, a higher percentage of “weirdos” and creatives out there. As other introverts probably know, we do need some level of socialization, but only very little. It used to happen at the videostore for me, you’d just walk in there and come across another video geek and trade a few ideas about cinema and that filled up that little social bar you need to keep in the green.
Videostores are dead but I’ve substituted that with the occasional art exibition and/or happening. There’s also more work and opportunities to set up events, hide in HUGE book stores (hello Indigo!!!).
As I got older, I realized that introverts can be perfectly functional in groups so long as there is a “purpose” to the presence there. Setting up a schedule for a festival, addressing logistics of said event. Personally, I can speak in public. I can address a crowd of a hundred or more. I’m fine with that… I usually have the hardest time in parties…in crowds of twenty people.
I can’t do it. I’ve literally walked out of parties so often I just don’t go anymore. I’ve had a music jam with new people once that stopped being about music and they just started talking about themselves and what they liked… Those were people I knew, but I swear to god, I’ve literally put my guitar in the case, looked them straight in the face and only said, “I need to go.” and bolted out of there.
I’m still weird, but as long as there’s a reason for my presence in a room, I manage it. The very moment that purpose is done with, I feel the absolute urge to get out of there.
What’s nice about a city is that you’re “alone together” very easily. The moment you walk out of that event or meeting, you turn a corner, put on your headphones and you’re one your own.
I stop “feeling” other people’s “weight” on me incredibly faster in a city. When I need to go to a suburb or when I go out in the country, there can be a fucking hundred meters between me and the meeting or a fucking mile in the woods. It’s like people are still there. There’s still only a limited number of options to get out of that place and that weights in on me. It’s probably not cool, that’s just how it is.
In the city, everything is so connected and moves so fast, you can disappear much, much more easily when you need too. Plus there’s a bookstore or a wifi café withing walking distance of almost anywhere you can be.
And I like to walk a lot. I really do.
I’m rambling now.