“How has it been without me at home?”
I struggle internally to think of exactly what an appropriate response would be. The real answer would be “hell” but I doubt that’s what she wants to hear. Still, between not being able to feed myself, multiple all-nighters despite not needing them, a massive outbreak of hives (including an ER visit), and feeling alone and too fragile to get by it would be true. But that’s not what she wants to hear.
“It’s been fine. The dogs miss you, I’ll be glad when you’re home.” Good. Perfect.
I think it’s confusing that, despite being an introvert, I live better with other people than I do alone. This is as much due to my lack of ability in self-care as it is to needing human connection. The thing about introversion is that it doesn’t mean I must never, ever be near another person. In fact, I take better care of myself when there’s simply someone present.
There are other intersections here, of course, that speak to why that happens. Neuroatypicalities, health issues and just the comfort of family. Even so, every time I admit to missing someone and especially loneliness I inevitably hear responses that reinforce the idea “well maybe you’re not really an introvert?”
Perhaps it’s just my own intellectual spirit but that irks me. Introverts aren’t, necessarily, misanthropic hermits that detest the company of other living beings. Quite the opposite, many of us deeply enjoy time with our family, many of us (myself included) ENJOY spending time with friends at parties, bars, or crowded locations.
The difference between introverts and extroverts here, of course, is that even when we enjoy them these events take an emotional, intrapsychic toll that we do need a break to recover from. The difference is that while extroverts can just go to bed after a long hypersocial event and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for another, I need to also set aside time alone to refresh my mind and soul in addition to my body. The difference is that while large gatherings of people help extroverts to relax and unwind they universally cause me to tighten up and put me on edge.
When concepts that are already so simple get what little bit of nuance that they have sucked out I become dubious in the worth of using them. After all, language is created by colloquial use. Still, there is a core understanding that, in this case, jargon (introvert/extrovert) has become colloquial. Can these definitions, these meanings be kept separate from each other?
In a word, yes. Pluralistic understandings of a single language are not new. The question becomes whether it’s worth it to contribute to white patriarchal intellectualism that allows for the reinforcement of classism through language or if there are other ways to communicate these concepts colloquially that don’t rely on exclusionary intellectualism.
Regardless, that’s a question for an entire post of its own. Instead I’m here right now to talk about the concepts, about the meanings and how they interact with my own experience.
I do better when I live near and with other people. For others the number may be higher or lower, but my “sweet spot” is two other people. Enough that I have the option of different types of interaction and the ability to occasionally complain about the other to a sympathetic ear. Spending time with my “pack” is very similar to spending time alone, for me; I get the same restorative benefit from watching a movie with housemates that I do from watching one alone.
And that’s really the crux of it. When I’m around someone enough they become an extension of me. That’s not to say that I own them, or that we are the same entity, but that they no longer drain energy from me. Being with them is literally like being alone with the added benefit that it cures loneliness.
It’s a little bit selfish but even so, it’s not without its mutual beneficialities. These people breed such an intense loyalty and love in me that doesn’t happen without cohabitation in a space. Even if we don’t hang out together, this happens though I know it doesn’t always seem that way to my housemates; it’s not a loyalty or love that results in friendship. It’s more complex than that. It’s always a bonus when friendship happens, too.
I’m glad she’s home.