I was at a party of writers Friday night. It was a great party but one thing about most writers is that we are introverted people. We are more comfortable wandering the inner landscape than meeting new people and making conversation.
One of my friends at the party admitted to me that she sometimes had to rally herself to get out. I loved it when she told me that because I am the same way. One function of being an introvert is that I often feel alone. I prefer to be alone until I start feeling lonely. Or disconnected from humanity. Or like I’m missing important facets of being a human being like cocktail parties and raves even though I am constitutionally incapable of cocktail parties and raves.
On the other hand, we are in a cultural moment of celebrating introversion. There is no shame anymore in binging on Netflix or preferring the couch and pajamas to a party and wearing pants.
I’m not advocating introvert shaming, but if my parents never goaded me into going out to play, I would have been content sitting in my room all day talking to rocks. That’s not a euphemism. I literally talked to rocks. I mean, cool imagination and everything but rocks are not capable of relationship.
The friend who confessed she must make a concerted effort to get out is a wonderful person. I love talking with her whenever I get a chance. I am so grateful she was at the same party of writers as me.
In fact, since I’ve forced myself to get out more, I’ve met several people I can’t imagine my life without now. If every introvert I know never rallied themselves to get out once in a while, I wouldn’t have any friends. To add an extra off-the-couch incentive, multiple studies show that social connections are as important to health and longevity as not smoking.
There are literary events at Time Tested Books and Avid Reader and Stories on Stage. I went to a music and spoken word performance of the Now Hear This program at Gold Lion Arts two nights ago and it made me know I love my city. There are drum circles, workshops, dance classes and theatre performances and fundraisers run by groups of people who are uplifting and generous and so cool it’s impossible to believe.
Netflix isn’t going anywhere and neither is my couch. I don’t have to magically become extroverted when I go out, and neither do I have to go out every night. But I shouldn’t make the couch my default. The television is not capable of relationship.
Advice to myself: Get out. Even if I’m tired. Even if I won’t know anybody. Even if I’m embarrassed. Even if my pants are too tight. Get out. Get out. Get out.
Imagination game: What events would you organize in your area if you could? Would you invent a poetry series, or an author panel, or an art show? Would you throw a big party for a milestone birthday? Money is no object in this game. Where would it be, who would come, what support would you invite to help you? What would you wear?
List three events that you will attend in the next month. Research cool events in your town if you need to. What will you wear, who will go with you, what exit strategy will you use if you need it? Plan ahead. Put them on your calendar.
Write a list of ten questions that you wish someone would ask you in a conversation. Consider turning them around and asking them, or some version of them, of someone else.