Introvert by way of Anxiety

I am an outgoing person. Always have been. I’ve done theatre since I was a kid. Improv shows were my favorite. I like to travel, even going on little vacations by myself on occasion. I put on silly faces, sat at the front of the class, always raised my hand, generally had something to say.

But there’s this terrible juxtaposition I put myself in when I do this. Because I have two narratives going on at once. As an example, I went to a play tonight. The show was One Man, Two Guvnors. Funny show with a fair dose of audience participation. We sat in the front row and when they asked for a volunteer, I was thinking, “OH pick me pick me pick me!”

And at the same I’m thinking, “OH GOD not me not me not me.” Just thinking back on it, I have an ache in my chest.

It’s weird, right? I feel them both, at the same time, at the same intensity. Because I like to play along and have those experiences. I like to be brave and say yes. But it is always so scary.

This is because of how I am wired. I am ruled by anxiety. I can’t even say I’m living with it functionally. The above described is, I think, as far from functional as you can get.

Girl wants to do a thing.

Girl gets excited.

Girl gets to do a thing!

Girl gets worked up and nervous and shakes like a bobblehead doll playing a game of Jenga.

Girl vividly plans for every disaster scenario her brain can imagine for herself (in technicolor!)

Girl does thing totally successfully, not at all a big deal, while onlookers notice she might be “maybe nervous or something”.

This is me. It suuuucks. It drives me to be introverted, which is odd because it’s not my desire. I like the dog and pony show! (Did you hear, there’s a pony!) But my animal reaction in my brain is to do the mental equivalent of pacing back and forth until I wear a ditch down into the earth. AND MOST OF THE TIME THINGS ARE FINE.

I’ve been trying to combat this for years, but I don’t know how I would because there’s not really much of a road map for people like me. I know extroverts and introverts. My introvert friends would rather be at home reading a book. Extroverts want to go to a party and talk about the movie they saw based on the book. I want to read the book, go to a book club to talk about it, but then not make eye contact with anyone until I’ve eaten enough cheddar cheese to get me to a comfortable place where I can explain that the book is really an allegory for man’s struggle to understand himself and did you have a restroom I mean of course you do what a ridiculous question well this has been great but I’m going to the bathroom now I mean unless someone else needs to go I can wait oh god why do I always do this

I know where it comes from. Uncertainty mixed with some good old crummy brain stuff at a formative age. But where can it go? The things I do and try haven’t gotten harder, really. But even after all this time, I am still plagued with self doubt. I want to run outside. I want to say hello. I want to do new things. But if I open the door, how am I going to screw this up?


3 thoughts on “Introvert by way of Anxiety

  1. Kathleen Howell

    Interesting twist! I’ve only known introverts OR extraverts (or perhaps I didn’t know some might be a hybrid!) Maybe an opportunity to discover the best of both worlds?

  2. I think most of us have at least a little self doubt. I have those same feelings. I had my niece and nephews at a science program and they asked for a parent volunteer. I thought about raising my hand but didn’t until the 4 of them were looking at me, calling for Aunt Mary to volunteer. Everything was fine, it was fun, but they had to push me. Maybe people like us have to just keep pushing ourselves because most of the time it works out and when it didn’t, we still lived. That’s my intention but it doesn’t apply to things like jumping out of planes.

  3. You know my life! ❤ 🙂

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