Introverts as Friends

‘Urgh, I forgot about that, do I really have to go?’

The Obligations of Friendship

To the extroverted members of society, or sometimes even the ambiverted ones among us, the title of this post may come across as a bit of an oxymoron. Why would an introvert have friends? They hate people right? Well, as I’m sure the introverted among you will point out: it’s complicated.

Now, this post is more than likely going to be a ‘personal experience’ post, and so what I am about to say may not necessarily apply to introverts as a whole. But, I’m sure many of my socially challenged brethren will be able to relate to this. We, as introverts, would actually like to have friends, the issues arise with what comes with friendship. To put it simply, having friends is a lot of work. Therefore, it is easier to just not have friends. To our extroverted cousins, this may seem rather depressing, and in some cases could seem quite rude. But, I think that that is just a consequence of poor understanding from both sides. Perhaps in considering this point, we can reconcile our differences.

Introverts at school, in the workplace, even at events, may seem incredibly friendly and talkative. In some cases, one might even be fooled into thinking they were extroverted. But as soon as an introvert leaves the agreed upon ‘slot’ of allocated social interaction, they vanish. ‘No sorry, I don’t want to do anything with you at the weekend’, ‘Why are you messaging me outside of school’. ‘Erm, excuse me, it’s after 5pm, who are you?’, ‘No, I don’t want to listen to your rant about what Susan did during your meal out’.

Personally, this has proved rather detrimental to friendships all throughout my life. Once I get to know you, I’ll talk your ear off until you’re sick of me. But once I’m done, you won’t hear from me for days. At school, this resulted in me simply never being invited to things. I was only ever a presence during the school hours. After that, I’d go home and quite happily withdraw into my own little world. People would attempt to invite me to events, to which I’d make up some excuse as to why I couldn’t go. This continued until, eventually, I stopped receiving invites all together. My more extroverted counterparts would then bond with each other outside of school, and thus during school, I’d be confined to the sidelines. The same could be said for university, work, or any other regular gathering of people.

Which Personality Shall I Wear Today?

An unintended consequence of all this, was that even if I wanted to do something with a friend outside of the usual hours, I couldn’t pluck up the courage to ask. Why? Because that was not my character. If I had behaved any differently to my usual self, people would suspect something, think I’m weird, or not know how to react. Was this view an irrational fear inside of my overthinking head? Probably, but it vexed me all the same.

With this in the back of my mind going into my university years, I had a complete reinvent of my personality. I was still an introvert and pretty much feared people, but I was far more approachable. However, during the holidays, I’d go home and become my usual, reserved self. I had two seperate personalities. In fact, I would argue that I actually had three. Because, at the time, I was employed as a waiter. As a customer facing job, I couldn’t just be normal Cam, otherwise the customers wouldn’t come back. So, I became ‘customer services’ Cam.

The interesting thing was that each personality was associated with a different set of people. My old school friends never saw university me. And university friends never saw customer services me. Will I eventually develop a ‘blogging’ me? Who knows – perhaps, I already have. Under no circumstances could any of these sets of people mix. In the rare occasions where one set of people became aware of a different version of me, they didn’t believe it to be true (A perfect example of this is my family’s reaction to finding out that I’d spoken at physics conferences around Europe, giving talks to rooms full of unknwown scientists. ‘Wait, Cam did that??’). This simple reality is still true today. So, it’s probably going to rear it’s inconvienent head when I end up at a gathering with multiple sets of people present – all being familiar with a different Cam. Will I assume multiple personalities at once? Will my head explode in a spectacular display of social awkwardness? Difficult to tell, the possibilities are endless.

Anyway, I digress. Going back to an earlier point in this post, I realise now that these separate personalities have actually been with me my whole life. The reason I don’t want to associate with someone outside of their allocated time slot, be it school, university, work etc, is because the people that are associated with during these slots have to be matched to the correct personality. I can’t be friends with someone at university unless I am at university and am therefore playing ‘university’ Cam. I can’t be all smiley with a customer I have served as a waiter if i bump into them in my hometown because that person is associated with ‘customer services’ Cam.

I Don’t Have Dissociative Identity Disorder… Honest

All of this sounds rather cuckoo. And, I really hope that there are other introverts out there that can relate to this, otherwise I’ve probably just made myself look worringly deranged. In a world that is dominated by extroverts (I’ve actually written a post about that here), I hope I’ve given the more socially fluent members of our society some clarity. If your introverted friend doesn’t reply to your text, do not be alarmed! They don’t hate you, they’re probably just lost in a youtube rabbit hole, or playing a different personality that day. And, if you relate to this post, you are not insane! You just might be a little bit on the introverted side (Unless everything I’ve said is completely stupid, in which case, feel free to correct me).

As always, and until next time. I thank you for the read.

Cam.

Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

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