I am a textbook introvert. My ideal Friday evening involves staying in my apartment, watching a few hours of Netflix by myself with some good dinner and a great beer or wine. Sometimes I’ll let my cats snuggle up against me as I write later, but for the most part my bedroom door stays closed.
I don’t think being an introvert is a bad thing. I don’t think there is anything wrong in finding energy in solitude, in spending quality time alone. But I do think, personally, that there is a fine line between being alone because I’m an introvert and being alone because I’m depressed. I realized this fact recently when after watching several seasons of Teen Wolf in quick succession I found it strange that more hadn’t happened in my life. The emotional, fictional adventure I’d gone on with the characters was just that–emotional, but fictional–entirely hollow.
The TED Radio Hour recently did a podcast on happiness, “Simply Happy.” One of their speakers, Graham Hill, became a millionaire at a young age after selling a start-up company in the late 90s. After a few years of too much money, Hill realizes just how much stuff he has accrued, and begins to edit his life. This quote comes from the podcast:
“As a way of editing your own life, let’s just remember that what really matters in life is memorable experiences, connections and relationships. Space and stuff should support that.”
I probably have too much stuff, but that’s, strangely, not the lesson I took away. That Hill makes a point of saying that life is about memorable experiences really stuck with me. It’s like one of those truths I’ve always known, but have never really had to face. Obviously, life is connecting and interacting with people, but when faced with the decision to make real, relational connections with people or to stay in and live the hollow fictional life, I’ve found I need to focus on the real connections to find joy. Which, as an introvert, is often a very hard decision to make. Fictional lives are easy and neat, conflicts resolve quickly, everybody gets to say their piece, every decision feels essential to the plot, everybody matters. Real relationships are much more complicated, they’re messy, riddled with double meanings, often directionless, confusing. But it is ludicrous to live only in the fictional world, to spend much of your life as an escapist.
Which is why I’m making a point of saying “yes” more often. I hope to challenge myself, to be outside my comfort zone, to build to new relationships and connections.
I can easily waste away my entire life. But by saying yes, by meeting new people, experiencing new things, making new connections and memories, I will combat that wasting away.
Here’s to saying yes more often. To accepting the offer to vacation with new friends, to making new connections. Let’s get ourselves going.