Thursday, April 5, 2012

Only a Desire for Connection

Lindsey and Bruce posted on introversion.  I celebrate their writings and am thankful to know myself a little bit better today than I did yesterday. 
I am never able to explain most of my inner workings to anyone, including my husband and even myself.  But I can feel these fissures. And I know them viscerally if not intellectually. 
I can not explain to my daughter why watching the Kardashians is such a waste of time.  I can not put into words why I can not stand to watch things like this, or Real Housewives.  When I tell her that I didn’t even watch this crap when I was her age, she responded with “of course you didn’t.” I heard only the words.  I absolutely did not hear, “Please don’t remind me of the embarrassment that I don’t have a mother who is not cool ANYMORE, but I have a mother who never, ever experienced being cool.” 
I have never been able to talk pop culture. I don’t know the names of actors and their movies and their boyfriends of the day.  I don’t know the right brands of clothes or shoes or make up to purchase. When conversation turns to this, I am quiet.  Not only am I bored, but I feel so uncool.  And then I shame myself and ask why I can’t know this stuff.  For God’s sake, it isn’t rocket science.  
Now, I also can’t talk on the other extreme.  I can’t pull poets names out of the air or stream endlessly about philosophers or ancient Greek or polymers or symbiotic relationships.  (It was a stretch just to come up with these words). Or rocket science. 
There are other conversations that are hard for me.  Sports.  I know about the NCAA Basketball tournament in March.  My husband’s family does a pool so I play.  I usually come in dead last.  I pick my teams by where I would most like to visit.  Or places I have been.  I always forget if the New York Giants are a football team or baseball.  I don’t know the difference between an umpire or a referee.  
I also generally don’t talk politics.  I can almost always see both (or several) sides and can be swayed easily.  I don’t trust much of it, and I find that when people want to talk politics, they just want to thrust their beliefs on you, making for a shallow one sided conversation. 
Recently at a cocktail party, I was talking to someone about the lost art of diagramming sentences, and how kids aren’t able to understand how words work together anymore.   How the relationship between a verb and an adverb and a noun and an adjective help make cohesive sentences so that one can better understand and articulate their thoughts and beliefs. 
My friend put her hand on my wrist and looked me in the eye and said, “This is boring me.  I need to get a drink.” 
I laughed because it was funny, and of course I understood this was not an exciting topic to most people.  I did not stand there alone and beat myself up saying, “Why? Why? Why do I do this?”   
What I didn’t do was consider this interaction from an introvert’s point of view. One of the comments on Lindsey’s post declared, “I love being able to connect with others, but not on a superficial level.” 
I don’t remember what led to my diatribe on the structure of sentences, but there was some connection.  It didn’t start with someone saying, “Hey, can you believe that housewife from New York just paid $5,000 for hair extensions?” Even if I don’t like it or am uninterested, I do have enough social skills and awareness not to respond to that remarkable insight by proclaiming the benefits of knowing adverbs intimately. 
Perhaps the conversation was concerning a current 5th grade project or someone said their senior was having a hard time completing his essay for a college entrance application.  I was simply enjoying the people, and making a connection about something that creates passion within me. 
Is wanting to connect on a deeper level solely the domain of the introverted? I doubt it. And I’m not even convinced talking about sentence structure isn’t just a different part of the shallow end.  Just a less crowded part of the shallow end perhaps. 
Being overwhelmed and overstimulated by too many ideas and too many people is most definitely the familiar terroir of my internal landscape.  
I like parties and gatherings and connecting with others.  Often, the anxiety that I feel ahead of time is never felt at the actual event.  But sometimes it is. 
And on those nights, I just excuse myself early, go home and curl up in my bed with Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. 


  1. I love Eats, Shoots, and Leaves ... one of my favorites! :)
    And no, I don't think wanting to connect on a deep level is purely an introverted desire. No way. xox

  2. I love diagramming sentences! Truly! Maybe we should start a club for introverts where we sit around and quietly talk about grammar. That sounds like a really lovely time to me. :)