I was just reading this post by Jenny Lawson (a.k.a The Bloggess, a.k.a. my absolute hero), and it made me feel like a little less of a freak for a few minutes: http://thebloggess.com/2016/03/every-friday-night-and-saturday-night-and-every-night-basically/
I got to meet Jenny last spring at her most recent book signing, and it was, hands down, one of THE greatest moments of my life. And this is why: Jenny has helped me find the courage to finally share my writing, to keep going when it’s really hard to put one foot in front of the other, and has shown me that I’m not alone, even when I think I am. She helped me by sharing her own fears and weaknesses and problems, and it showed me that there are other people like me– people who are different.
I hate crowds. I hate strangers. I hate loud noises. Those things kick my anxiety into overdrive. When I started reading Jenny’s books and blogs posts, I saw that there are actually names for this, that other people have the same issues, and I felt not alone for the first time in my whole life. People find different ways to treat this, whether it’s medication or therapy or maragaritas. Mine is forcing myself to do something good for me when I really want to isolate. (Today I went to the beach and wore a bikini in front of strangers without a t-shirt over it for the first time in forever, and despite the 2-inch wide strip of sunburn that now encircles my waist like an asteroid belt, I actually relaxed enough to fall asleep mostly naked on the sand in public. That is a HUGE fucking deal for someone who can’t even ride public transportation without an escort.)
Sharing struggles helps other people. Besides being an outlet that keeps me from exploding like a malfunctioning pressure cooker and killing everyone within twenty yards of me, I also really, really hope it helps someone to not feel alone. I also hope it helps them find courage to talk about it. Contrary to how some of these posts might appear, I am not a narcissistic butthole who just likes talking about herself– I have a purpose in mind.
I can be a hard person with which to be friends. I categorically refuse to talk on the phone because it gives me anxiety to have to come up with conversation on the spot. I have to do that shit at work all day– I’ll be damned if I’m going to do it at home. When I get into a dark period, I am impossible to reach for days or weeks. And if you get too close to me and find out too much about my vulnerabilities and who I really am, I will stop speaking to you altogether because now you know too much, and that scares the living shit out of me. I have no illusions about the kind of person I am– I can be a total dick. I don’t intentionally set out to do it, but it does happen.
But ya know what? I’m okay with me. It’s taken 35 years, but I am actually okay with who I am– neuroses and all– for the first time in my life, as far back as I can remember. And that’s a good place in which to find oneself. At least I don’t walk around anymore wishing I was someone else or feeling like no one could ever possibly like me or care about me. I don’t feel shame about my weaknesses anymore– just determination to never let them defeat me. So I’d say that’s a decent improvement.
This is the point, if I have one at all: it’s easy to feel alone in this world where true human connection has become a rarity. That does not mean that you are, in reality, actually alone. It means you need to reach out, as much as you may want to hide in your bed, under the covers, with a bottle of rum and a good book. Sometimes all we need is to be reminded that someone else does get it, even if that person is a fellow introvert-blogger halfway across the country. Knowing that one person understands is often all the encouragement we need to keep ourselves in the real world, rather than going into our own little cocoon of loneliness and alcohol-fueled depression. So next time you feel the need to make an entire blender-ful of margaritas and take it to bed with you, remember that, somewhere, someone else is feeling the exact same way. And then go have your margaritas at a bar instead and toast the other shy, anxious people out there who found the courage today to do the same.