Reason #539 Why I Try to Avoid Interacting with People

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an introvert/socially anxious/awkward/shy/a hermit and generally dislike other people and all the things that go along with interacting with them.

I put this all aside last weekend when I decided that hubby and I should go to the movies to celebrate our 15 year date-iversary. Since we’re movie snobs, we only go to the AMC Dine-In theater with the recliners and full menu of food and alcoholic drinks. Apparently everyone else in the tri-state area had the same idea and all of the movies that I wanted to see were either sold out or only had single seats left. I then did something even more out of character and bought tickets to The Wolf of Wall Street at the theater we had never been to before, in a city we weren’t familiar with. Cue the anxiety.

The seats weren’t the big fancy recliners, and there was no table on a swinging arm, but the menu was the same and the chairs were comfy enough. The seats were grouped in fours, so being extremely anti-social and borderline rude, I bought two seats in the middle of a group of four. I figured the chances of anyone buying the two single seats on the ends was slim to none so we would get to watch the movie in semi-privacy.

We got there, settled into our seats and buzzed our waitress. She didn’t even greet us or tell us her name. In fact, she said no words to us at all when she arrived. She just stood there looking at us with her pen to her little waitress pad, as if we had disturbed her from something much more pressing than our need for fried food and sugary drinks.

Just as the previews were starting a young couple walked over and was looking at the seat numbers. The guy then asked us if we would move over so that they could sit together. I grumbled and gave him a bit of the stink-eye while hubby and I briefly consulted each other about whether or not we would move for them, and then we picked up our stuff and shifted to the left. Now, I know that it was not nice of me to buy those particular seats, but I also find it somewhat unacceptable that they bought the end seats knowing that they would just ask whomever was sitting in the middle to move. Then the guy had the nerve to say to us, “It’s not like one seat makes that much of a difference anyway.” Well, no, I suppose it doesn’t, but when there is reserved seating and someone pays for specific seats, then yes it does make a difference. Especially when that someone is me and now I have to sit next to you, Douchey Guy with a Ginormous Phone and Therefore Ginormous and Unbelievably Bright Screen. He felt the need to pull it out every few minutes for the next three hours to check who knows what, gallantly turning it away from his girlfriend’s face right into my eyes.

Towards the end of the movie, our waitress brought the bills over. I paid with my credit card, Douchey Guy paid with cash. They got their receipt, we got nothing. A few minutes later the waitress came back and told DG that he paid with cash. He acknowledged this. She told him that she mistakenly gave him a credit card and asked where it was. He feigned ignorance and my blood started to boil because I knew immediately that he had my credit card. She explained to him in the simplest of terms that if he paid with cash then he would not receive a credit card in return, and just as she was about to start drawing him pictures to illustrate this point, he pulled my credit card out of his pocket and gave it back to her.

Now, I wasn’t upset at the waitress. Things happen. People make mistakes. BUT. How could someone knowingly take a credit card that doesn’t belong to them and put it away in their pocket?! There is no reason for this, other than he was going to steal it, right? The only reasons we didn’t say anything to him were (1) he seemed high as a freakin’ kite and was also at least a little drunk, so there was a good chance he didn’t have a clue what was going on, and (2) have you watched the news? People are unstable and I didn’t want to end up a headline.

I got my card back and all is right in my world, but I think I’ve learned my lesson and will not be venturing out again in the near future.

What It’s Like Being an Introvert

I’ve been called a lot of things over the years: quiet, shy, reserved, socially awkward, rude, a bitch, weird, anxious, anti-social. I’ve heard the cliche, “It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for!” so many times that I may actually punch the next person who says it to me right in the face. I get “You’re so quiet!” and “Why don’t you talk?” so much that it shouldn’t even bother me anymore. But it does.

I’ve been The Quiet Girl pretty much my entire life. I remember it really starting around age 7, which is when my family moved to the US from Canada. I don’t know if that’s what sparked my extreme self-consciousness, or if I was just destined to be this way, but that is the only event I can pinpoint that may have had something to do with it.

I’ve always preferred reading and being by myself to being around a lot of people. People make me anxious. I can handle one-on-one situations pretty well, but as soon as there are more people added to the mix I clam up and want to melt through the floor to escape. This poses a huge problem for me at work since I’m sometimes singled out in meetings. I react exactly the same way I have all my life: I turn beet red, I start to shake, my eye twitches, and I forget how to put sentences together. Sometimes I’ll even have a full-fledged panic attack, complete with pounding heart, ringing in my ears, and nervous sweat. I’m just the picture of professionalism.

One of my biggest fears in terms of social situations is speaking on the phone in front of other people. Even at home, I prefer to talk on the phone in private instead of in front of my husband, and I love and trust him. Talking on the phone at work is a HUGE source of anxiety for me. Every time the phone rings I say a quiet prayer begging God that the call is not for me. It’s one thing to just have to have a normal conversation, but Heaven forbid it be an angry client who is demanding answers or solutions to a problem. I hate to admit this, but there have been numerous times I’ve just NOT SAID ANYTHING in response to a client’s question hoping that they will get frustrated with me and hang up. And when I have to call people in other countries who don’t speak English as a first language? I will sometimes pretend that no one answered the phone or that they hung up on me, just so that I can send an email instead. I often “forget” to call people back, or I wait until everyone else is at lunch so I can make the call in semi-privacy. Today I had to call some clients and apologize for a mistake with their hotel. I purposely waited until a time that I thought they would be out to dinner just so that I could say I “tried” to reach them but couldn’t. Life would be so much easier if everyone would just communicate in writing instead of speaking.

People often misconstrue my quietness for rudeness. In reality, I just don’t want to make a fool out of myself so I keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. It also takes me time to process social situations, so I often won’t have an answer or an opinion until much later, after I’ve had time to think about the conversation. People have told me I’m stuck up or conceited, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not talking to you, not because I think I’m better than you, but because I sometimes think YOU’RE better than ME.

Honestly, I just find it exhausting having to be around people. It takes so much energy to socialize and try to appear somewhat normal. Small talk is excruciating for me.

I’m clearly in the wrong profession because I am definitely not a people person. However, finding a job that requires very little interaction with others and pays a decent amount of money is surprisingly hard to come by. I’ve begun submitting my résumé for more computer-focused positions and I’m thinking about taking an online writing class. I can’t think of a better situation than to be able to stay home and write all day AND get paid for it. The only thing better would be to read all day and get paid to write about books. How do I make this happen?