Sitting on another 5 hour plane ride back from the centre of the Canadian universe (i.e Toronto) the other day, it occurred to me how much I criticize myself for being so seemingly closed off to others. I have always found plane rides painful. I have no issues with the fact that I am 30,000 feet in the air travelling at 500 MPH in a metal tube. Perhaps I should, but I don’t. My angst from flying comes instead from the fact that I am 30,000 feet in the air travelling sub-warp surrounded by 200 people. It’s the people thing that gets me. An excess of people.
I have always berated myself for my introverted nature. It’s like it’s some sort of disease or disfigurement. In fact, I am certain that somewhere there are Evangelical Extrovert Churches that haul in unsuspecting Introverts from the street and perform electroconvulsive therapy on them up on the alter to help shed them of their evil ways.
Satan clearly is an Introvert.
I realized the other day that my real dislike of flying stems from the discomfort created by the disconnect between what I want to do do (i.e. ignore everyone and sink into my own inner cocoon), and what I feel I should be doing. I give myself shit for not striking up a conversation with the little old lady who looks like my mother beside me, or the Bill Gates look-alike with the pen protector in his pocket, or the 300lb guy with a mullet and a baseball cap on backwards, draped by sunglasses also on backwards. I should put myself out there I’m told. Open myself up. There are so many benefits associated with social interaction. We could become healthier, both mentally and physically. Ward off depression and Alzeimers. And that geek next to me or, for that matter, the 300lb monolith in the muscle shirt, could actually be the CEO of a new pharmaceutical or mullet hair product company looking for its next VP of sales. The opportunities and benefits are simply endless. All I have to do is talk to them.
So, I’m done. It’s time for me to stop fighting who I am. I’m coming out of the closet, people. I’m Introverted and I’m PROUD of it. I’m so proud that I’m going to give my fellow Introverts out there some pointers on how you too can find your inner “I” while surrounded by Extroverts who would like nothing better than to bend your ear simply because they can’t shut up…
1) Never, ever make eye contact. If, in your peripheral vision, you see a big E next to you about to make small talk, cough without covering your mouth. Works every time.
2) Slip into a meditative pose, with forefingers and thumbs touching. Breathe deeply, with your eyes partially closed. This really freaks out a big E. Seeing someone sitting there, quietly and at peace makes them squirm like crazy. Makes me smile inside :).
3) Watch someone else’s movie across the aisle and exactly 2 rows up. This allows you to turn your head away from your seat mates, thereby effectively giving them a cold shoulder, but not so much to that the person across the aisle thinks you actually want to speak to them. I have watched about a thousand movies – FULL movies – this way. I couldn’t obviously listen to the audio, but hey, who needs words to understand a Hollywood movie these days anyway?
These are just a few pointers. My fellow Introverts, you are NOT socially inept, angry, depressed or a bad person, no matter what big E’s might say you are. You are simply more refined. Feel good about yourself, and be austere in your self-criticism. And, most importantly, be proud of who you are.