Past the Crowd to the People

People jostled against her as they passed. The music from half a dozen different bands engulfed her. She felt smaller than ever. Smaller—and more vulnerable.
***
The groups of people on the street were too loud, too large. What had, moments before, seemed a good-humored crowd of San Franciscans enjoying a weekend street fair now seemed a threatening mob. A man stumbled against her, and Violet gasped as if the contact had been an assault. I’m lost, she thought in sudden panic.

PaperQuake by Kathryn Reiss

Violet Jackstone’s fear really gripped me as I read it. I’ve felt this way before… and I wasn’t lost. I’ve felt like this in a store or at a party. I deal with social anxiety. I don’t do well in groups of people, and the more they invade my personal space, the more unresponsive I become. Confronting so many in one setting overwhelms my natural tendency to want to get close and know what makes a person special. So I clam up. I don’t respond readily when someone addresses me. During one of these overload moments, I trip over the simplest conversations. It’s like my brain has hives.

I’ve been treating my anxiety for six months now, hoping I can learn to be more responsive. Now I’m more relaxed, and that seems to bring more opportunities into my life, more interaction, more—I hate to say it—drama. I was oblivious to a lot of it before. Is it insane that I kinda miss being oblivious? It was so much easier! Now I’m learning how to respond patiently to drama.

Quiet time
Quiet time (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

So I’m not the anxious introvert anymore. But I’m still an introvert! I’m pleased that being myself in groups is easier, but part of being myself means stepping out of the crowd and taking a breather. I’m not unhappy with being an introvert, I’m unhappy with the pressure put on me to react like an extrovert. It affects me when I am perceived as cold or dismissive, or undemonstrative, when I’m oftentimes trying to give the space I would want someone to give to me.

In the book PaperQuake, Kathryn Reiss writes about thinking laterally, connecting the dots in a different configuration than the conclusions we jump to. She isn’t discussing human interaction, but I think it’s great thought to carry over. It means giving each person the benefit of the doubt. I shouldn’t interpret someone’s actions according to my experiences or my personality. I want to make thoughtful decisions about how I relate to those I love and am learning to love more deeply. Then the crowd stops being a crowd and becomes a great big family.

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Author: Rilla Z

I'm a scribbler. I'm genuine. Sometimes I'm too genuine. My topics of interest are: this world, the worlds inside my head, and the world to come. Oh, and cups of tea. Yes, I write about my cups of tea.

8 thoughts on “Past the Crowd to the People”

  1. As an introvert who has difficulty with large groups or new situations, I can relate to what you feel. It should be okay for us to be quiet and be comfortable and not have to fit an “extroverted” mode.

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  2. Remember how you applauded me for accepting my family drama and moving on with it? I applaud you for being able to reveal such personal information. That post on my aunt was about as open as I can get. I have always been a private person. I too, have social, I’ll call them inadequacies. My husband and I have a running joke from the time we were dating – we would attend any function, and even before the mid-way point of the event, he and I would be off somewhere in the back of the room, talking and laughing it up – just the two of us. Guess what, a whole lot of years later, we still do the same thing. What I mean is, that the two of us are one in the same. Back in the day, a person could have those days you’re speaking of, they were called “Little Mother Helper” days. Meaning, you would just pop a Valium and all would be right with the world. I have been struggling lately with an issue that I’m not comfortable in discussing, and yes, it has to do with social settings. I think getting older has helped in more ways than I can mention. But at the same time, I do not feel it’s a bad thing to be socially stunted, if you will (keeping to yourself). Doesn’t that go hand in hand with being a writer? But, then, that’s just my opinion. Although, I did speak with someone recently who finds nothing wrong with socializing on FB, and Twitter with people (nice people). No, this is not God’s best for us, but believe me He knows how hard it is. Applauds again for sharing your news.
    Veronica

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    1. Thanks Veronica! There are many situations where introverts work so much more efficiency and with better results. Lots of introverts I know have developed extroverted habits to cope. It’s not ideal, but when in Rome and all that.

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  3. Hey, I think I’m a social extrovert but a ‘business’ introvert! I do well in social situations, as long as everyone else in the room isn’t like the Russell Crowe character in, “A Beautiful Mind.” One drawback (I’m sure there are many more that I’m missing) is that extroverts tend to think that everyone is looking for an ‘answer’ from them. We stress out about what to say because we’re just so sure that we’re supposed to figure out the solution…and quickly. Maybe introverts have learned the meditative value of ‘wait and see.’ Obviously, the world needs both. Lucky us!

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    1. Uh oh. I’m in real trouble then. I have a tendency to want to give a solution, too. My sister calls it being the ‘fixer.’ It’s my theory that fixers are often older sibling-types. But, yeah, quick answers are not my thing. The few times I’ve been able to respond quickly have often been mean comebacks. Of course, I’ve regretted each and every one. As nice as it would be to say I’m a wait and see introvert, I’m not. More like reserved and impatient. 🙂

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