I’ve been busy. Why, only last night I drunk quite a bit of strong ale, was in a deadly fight, battered two suspicious individuals and consequently spent the night in jail. Ok, so maybe that wasn’t exactly me, more my dwarven, bearded alter-ego in my first ever D&D session (I finally gave in… D&D was always going to happen at some stage, I mean, look at me). But the point still stands. In between applying for jobs, cleaning, cooking and figuring out the back story for my character, trying to absorb the many different stats and coming to terms with the dice, not mentioning killing bandits and getting imprisoned, I’ve been busy.
No writing prompt today, “proxy” is just not doing anything for my little grey cells, it’s sitting quietly in a small cozy room in the brain, reading a lengthy novel with a big “Do not disturb” sign around its neck. I’ll leave it be.
Today is my retreat-into-myself-and-regroup day. I’m an introvert. I’m just not a shy one. I like people, and I like company. In reasonable amounts, that is. There is this very simplistic view of introverted people doing rounds, that we’re all shy and socially inept, ridden with social anxieties and essentially only willing to spend time alone in the confines of the safe space of our rooms. And there is some truth to that, and there certainly are introverted people like that. But it’s not all of us. I’ve taught myself how to be around people, I enjoy it for the most part and I think I have good social skills. More importantly, over the last few years I have experienced the level of disconnect and loneliness so intense that it really drove home the point that, regardless of our aptitude and appetite for solitude, we really need some human contact now and then.
I need to pick my social interactions carefully. However enjoyable they are, they still take quite a lot out of me. I am a lot more likely to give my attention to close friends and family, rather than to the groups of casual acquaintances. I can function in a large group but it’s tiring as hell and I need a lot of time to recover from it mentally. One-on-one meetings with people whom I know well, are my ideal outings but I don’t always have a choice.
I am now just back in Ireland, after 4 years’ absence. I’m very keen to reconnect with my friends here and I’m ready to meet new people too. I’ve been saying “yes” to a lot more social interactions than I normally do. To an extroverted person, my schedule probably doesn’t look busy at all, but I am starting to feel a bit of pressure already. Don’t get me wrong, I am hugely enjoying seeing my favourite people again. But a little alarm bell goes inside the head – “don’t overdo it, you’ll wear yourself out”.
I am coming out of a lengthy period of depression too. I am doing a lot better, I see it: I’m more positive, more creative, more hopeful and generally happier, despite the occasional ‘low’ day. But it is a bit like coming out of a persistent, months-long flu. My energy levels are just nowhere near what they normally are. I’m dealing with a very welcome, but still big and a touch scary, change in my life again. Moving continents is no joke, looking for work is stressful and just a little bit soul-crushing, getting used to living in a big busy city, the people, the sounds, the movement, the rush –I have to learn all of this again. I’m genuinely happy to do it, I’m rediscovering many half-forgotten joys, like what a pleasure it is to be alone in the crowd, to move with its rhythm (I’m still a half a pace off of it, my body doesn’t remember the flow and the weave of it yet, but it’ll happen, it always does eventually), separate but in sync. But I need to stay vigilant so that it all doesn’t overwhelm me.
And the meetings, even with the dearest of friends, add another layer of challenge. I’m pushing through, because I know, that this time, right after I got back, was always going to be the most intense. Also four years is a long time. Nobody’s life stops for that long. The friends I’m meeting now, are not exactly the same friends I had. Nor am I quite the same, we all have changed. And so the brain spends extra power and energy on trying to come to terms with that, absorb the news, recognize the changes, readjust, find the core of that particular relationship again and reconnect. It’s wonderful, and it’s rewarding, but it’s also tiring. I do know though that I do want to do it, and that once this initial period passes, and things settle down a bit, I’ll be able to stay in touch with everyone without losing my mind in the process.
But still, it is important for me to remember that I need days like today. To retreat, to regroup, to be largely by myself. So I can gather strength I need to meet the world again.