I am surrounded by introverts. Sheryl is an introvert. All my close friends: Paul, Ronnie, Gatchie, and Jonze (closeted) are introverts. Most of my co-workers are introverts. Even my neighbors are introverts. But I am not an introvert. I am the token extrovert that is present in their lives for their education and amusement. I am the weird, odd, and curious specie in the glass cage that they carefully examine and dissect to get a fuller understanding of the world.
But the fact that I am close to all these introverts is as fascinating as the stark differences between our personalities. Opposites really attract.
For instance, consider the introvert's revulsion with small talk. All the introverts in my life loathe small talks with strangers to the point that they will totally avoid strangers just to prevent engagement. Sheryl once said to me that every time she sees a stranger in our building elevator, she would not get in and instead take the stairs. It's like she would rather get exhausted from climbing 11 flights of stairs than talk about the 20 degree weather with a random.
Ronnie also shared a similar experience that whenever he sees his small-talk loving office building doorman assigned to the closest entrance, he would take the longer route to the farthest entrance. All that effort to avoid 30-seconds of chat.
When I asked them for their reasons, they said they dread meaningless conversations. They hate superficial chats about how one's person's weekend was or how the baseball game went the other night. They detest dialogues with no substance and instead prefer small talks that have profound impact and value.
Talks that have profound impact and value.
This is the exact reason why whenever I bump into introverted co-workers or strangers that exude the introvert vibe, I make sure to provide meaning, substance, impact, and value in my chats.
I usually open with: "What is the purpose of your existence? or "Why is there something rather than nothing?"
If the stranger is of advanced age, my go-to intro is usually: "Have you sucked the marrow of life so that you can truly say that you have truly lived?"
If it's less of a dreary kind of day, a bright summer day perhaps, I would put forth some wholesome intros but nonetheless meaty: "The sun. We are all descendants of the sun."
Another remarkable thing about the introverts in my life is that, like my iPhone, they lose energy after lengthy social interactions and thus need to recharge. When I say recharge, it's not literally plugging them on a wall socket. But it's them staying home, avoiding any interactions with anyone, not showering, occasional toothbrushing, binge-watching, and gorging on Doritos for days. This is why after parties or gigs, my friends disappear.
I am the exact opposite. Social interactions fuel me. if I haven't had any interactions for days, I would start feeling restless, bored, and eventually deflated. So I would try my best to get my fix to avoid my fall into the deep hole. One effective method that works for me is to just take the elevator up and down and start small conversations with randoms. Or visit the nearby deli and try to find something to buy while chatting with the store attendant about the meaning of photosynthesis or the upcoming slam dunk contest.
Interactions like these quite literally pumps blood into my brain and body. I feel a tingling sensation in my extremities and my whole body begins to warm up. I feel like I am The Ultimate Warrior whenever he touches those ropes or Popeye after stuffing his face with canned spinach. Energy just surges in.
However, I do wish that I can enjoy alone time like my introvert peeps. The idea of avoiding human contact is somewhat appealing, especially in this day and age of social media when there's just too much going on. Too much mindless arguments, too much noise, and too many selfies. A virtual hibernation might be in the cards for me. I just need the guidance of my introvert pals so I can navigate these unchartered waters.