Just listen to this as the sountrack to this post. I hope it will not be a long one.
A few days ago I was surprised, and a bit amused when some of my friends told me they think I'm a pretty cheerful and relaxed person. Which got me thinking of the ways in which they were right and where they were not. Soon after that event I've watched Nick Cave's 20,000 days on Earth and now I had a few days to process what I think, and what I feel about that.
The thing is, I'm a melancholy, introspective introvert, a unique snowflake just like the rest of you. I don't listen to Nick Cave as often as I used to in my latter years in college, but I return to him fairly regularly, and it's not until I saw the film that I really sat to think about why. I thought it was because, for me, he is the original "goth", the personification of the tall, dark fantasy artwork which resonates with people like myself who label ourselves as realists but somehow end up focusing on the darker parts of life, with enough empathy to see and resonate with the bad in the world, but, voluntarily or not, do not do anything useful about it. Not being able to functionally cope with one's feelings in late youth, I think, naturally leads to such a mindset.
I've come across one of those you're an introvert if... lists on Facebook, and was in the mood to actually take the time to read through it - and it's not half bad. I don't subscribe to all of the "problems" (e.g. I often want books to be conversation starters, like vistors and hanging out), but some of them just struck a chord with me:
- When spending a heavenly weekend alone means that you’re missing out on time with friends.
- ...And you fear that by doing so, you are nearing ‘hermit’ status.
- Trying to be extra outgoing when you flirt so your crush doesn’t think you hate them. (only replace "flirt" with most types of interaction with people I consider significant)
- That feeling of dread that washes over you when the phone rings and you’re not mentally prepared to chat.
- When you’re able to enjoy parties and meetings, but after a short amount of time wish you were home in your pajamas.
- Staying up late every night because it’s the only time that you can actually be alone. (oh yeah, took me a while to actually recognize this one as true)
- Being horrified of small talk, but enjoying deep discussions. (oh, there are so few people available for this...)
- The requirement to think introspectively rather than go to someone else with your problems.
- Not wanting to be alone, just wanting to be left alone. And people not understanding that.
- When people mistake your thoughtful look for being shy, or worse, moody.
The thing is - I recognize what I am, and also recognize that most people are not like that. They have their own problems and quirks, but they are different, and it looks like they are more outgoing, more friendly and easier to get along with. Since moods are contagious, I try very hard to project good humour around me, as I definitely do not want to have my default moody frame of mind reflected back at me because it then becomes a feedback loop which spirals downwards. I've learned that the hard way.
So... keep on pushing. The reason I listen to Nick Cave now is because in his songs he seems to be (but I'm not his psychologist) someone who has gone beyond the edge, overflowed with the quirkyness and the depression and the bad temper and finally knows who he is. I am fucked up. About half of it is a combination of nature and nurture, but I did the other half of it myself, to myself, mostly willingly, though not always aware of possible consequences. But in spite of that, here I am. I live through the bad episodes, cherish ever more the good ones, try to spend more and more time with good friends and avoid bad people like the plague (even though I understand and sympathise with them, because I am just like them). Life is short, and happily, there is less and less chance I will make it shorter than it's meant to be. I'm pushing the sky away.