As a loner, I have difficulty in connecting with people. I am the one you will see sitting alone in the cafeteria reading something or the one who refuses to take a walk in the park because there is a book or a craft waiting at home. I have few friends and I just don’t beam into a smile when seeing strangers/neighbours. I am cautious in my dealings and wary in my relationships.
At my new home, I haven’t as yet explored the entire space – the parks, the club, the pool! I look at people huddled in groups chatting away and I almost panic. I fear the small talk and the fake smiles, I fear the comparison or the show off, the condescending and the patriarchal, the overambitious or the downtrodden. I fear of being swamped by energies that I don’t need in my life. Maybe my fears make me lose out on some good contacts but then this is just me.
I can take strong dislikings when I feel my aura attacked by negativity and ill-will. I can feel and be distant because I don’t like encroachment into my time and space. I can see people covet my peace and learning, my meagre possessions and my smugness. I resent their “eyes on me”, their judgement and their covetousness. I am individualistic and that is sometimes difficult for people, specially the gregarious, to understand.
My soon-to-be-11 years old son was so much like me when he was younger and I consciously pushed him into socializing and being active, hoping to make him more outgoing. He is still not super social and can any day sit back quietly in a room with me to do things. He is quick to see through people and decide who’s being nice to him. He is still a child and he wonders why he doesn’t have many friends. I hope someday he is able to find a close friend or few – the nerdy, the creative, the sensitive, the kind, and the warm.
I did well by not telling him to be like me but he is so much me! Now he understands about being an introvert. As I look at him and share his struggles in making sense of the lonely spaces around him and what he must do to fill them with his spirit and his creativity, I see my own tryst with loneliness. It takes time to learn to navigate these silent, meandering paths but it happens and when it does it is liberating.
It is not that introverts don’t want or need friends. We do but just a few – the one’s with whom you can share thoughts and dreams without being judged. Not the lofty ideas but the simple ones where we can connect and go home with insight and feeling of fulfillment. The introvert gene needs to connect with one of it’s kind. BBC One in its BBC Idea series, explains the Quiet Power of Introverts in a short animated video.
My son and I share the introvert gene I am glad we both enjoy the power of silence and meaningful activities. When the world went into lockdown, we were the less perturbed of the lot because we sat back in the safety of our homes, pulled out our Kindles, learnt new things, and started our blogs. My son has his own blog – http://www.blackpenstrokes.wordpress.com – which will always be a reminder that even in adversity we can stand back and create something. In the year of the pandemic, he discovered his love for coding, story-writing and telling, and between us we discovered the joy of spending time with each other. That is the power of the introvert gene!