I need to find an unmanned door to sneak in to church these days. Any church. It overwhelms me to be greeted by what feels like 500 million extremely peppy people on my way in the door. Hugs! Handshakes! Welcome!! God bless you! Are your girls twins?!
Seriously to the point where I dread, DREAD, walking up to and into just about any church almost all of the time now. I often have to take a deep breath to will myself to the door and through. I’m trying not to turn into a recluse and stay home all the time, but it is too much y’all.
See, it even brings out a touch of Southern in me.
Like, one, maybe two greeters — but let’s not go overboard here — would be fine if they were chill, you know? Gave me the “wassup” head bob or something. No talk or touch. Or maybe if they designated a door for, ooohhh I don’t know, something like high-level introverts who don’t drink coffee?
“Psst, come this way,” as he motions with his finger. “You are still welcome here even though you don’t want to talk to us or hug us or return our God bless yous and amens.”
“Ohmygosh,” as tears form, “you just saved my life. How can I ever repay you?”
It’s like when you walk into a store and someone from the back yells out “hello” and you finally figure out where the heck it came from just in time to see the dirty look because you didn’t “hello” back. Look, I simply haven’t got the energy it takes to make my voice loud enough for you to ever even hear me respond. Ask anybody who knows me. So cool it with the face attitude.
And then everywhere I go, complete strangers insist — insist I tell you — on talking to me. Yap, yap, yap. All. the. time. I don’t understand. I’m just buying shampoo, why are you telling me your life story? Oh my goodness, the stories I’ve been told. I’d love to stay and chat but, ummm… oh my, there’s more? Good grief people. I feel kinda rude running and screaming away from them. But you know, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Anyway, it’s not that I don’t want to, but there are times that being social the way society expects is very challenging for me. I’m not even socially anxious, but the relentlessness of our culture can be quite exhausting. I really, really do understand the purpose of all the greetings and the shaking hands and meet someone new and the tell your neighbor something nice and… .
I get it. I do. Really and truly.
Long deep sigh.
It feels like everywhere I go I’m expected to be outgoing, responsive, happy happy, chitty chatty. I can be those things, surprising even myself with that little pep in my step. If I can get my alone time, or if I’m good tired rather than bad tired, then I do much better around people. I may even talk too much if I’ve had sufficient time away from the world… or have had caffeine… or am just plain old in the groove… or am comfy cozy in your presence.
However, I am still not likely to be the one to actually start a conversation. That’s a bit much to ask of me, don’t you think? But I will respond to someone talking to me. I force myself to be more chatty far more often than I want, if only to be kind. But in reality, it also has a lot to do with trying to avoid hearing someone very concernedly ask if I’m ok because I’m “too quiet.” Which at some point leads to my personal favorite, “Ohmygosh, I used to think you were such a snob, but you’re really [funny][nice][easytotalkto][a lovely person].”
It’s ok to be quiet.
In her head.
Or at the very least, all I ask, is that others accept that some people just can’t engage as much or as often. Because we just can’t. It is programmed into our very nature. We can’t fill every moment with words and noise. Let a conversation breathe. Let the noise around us soften, because I have sooooo very much going on in my head nearly incessantly. You can’t imagine the tonnage of thought that goes on in my poor little brain. It’s not even all bad. Though my inner thoughts can be quite weighty, almost as often I’m having a good old time amusing myself. It just gets to be a bit much when my inside world and the outside world collide for constant attention.
Just because I’m not talking doesn’t mean anything bad is happening or that I’m upset, aloof, depressed, anxious, snobby, or whatever negative that can be said. It just might be something as simple as I literally don’t have anything to say. Honestly, can’t think of a word. My brain is formlessly void of talk as I sit here sipping my water, taking in and enjoying all that is happening around me. You go right ahead and be the star of the party honey. I’m good.
It’s ok to be quiet.
To think. To ponder. To daydream. To pray. To observe. To consider.
For me, it’s a matter of survival.
Besides, if I don’t make time for quiet, how will I ever astonish you with my deep well of wisdom and amazing sense of humor?