Confessions of an Extrovert

My brother Casey was diagnosed with autism at three years old. As a family, we decided not to tell him in hopes that it would never be something that he would ever let define him… if he happened to find out, so be it, but we weren’t going to go out of the way to tell him. No point. He was always going to be the same Casey. One day after watching an episode of Dr. Phil, Casey came into the living room and made an announcement to us: You know guys, I was watching an episode of Dr. Phil and there were these autistic people on there, and after thinking about it, I might be autistic. We all just kind of sat there, looking at one another wondering who was going to step up with the obligatory “ding ding.” Casey had figured it out on his own, and I wasn’t really sure how learning something so pivotal would feel… until today.
I’m sure that a lot of factors went into my big discovery today: the immediate homesickness, the desperate need to keep my cell phone alive so to have directions to get to the apartment I’m staying at, the lack of sleep that I got in anticipation of this drive, but at the end of the day, regardless of the factors that led me to it, I have something I have to admit: I’m. an. extrovert. Much like the way that I used to say that I had secrets that I kept from people, and that I was super mysterious, I also liked to believe that I was an introvert… or at least someone who could be at peace with himself for eight to ten hours to make a car ride up the coast. But as the day went on, I couldn’t take it. I began talking to myself more and more, laughing at my own jokes to fill the void of the usual laughter that follows me witty banter. I would befriend people in cars: people that looked like my dad or people my age, possibly an old woman who looked kind of lonely. They would never make eye contact with me, but I’d follow them and keep watch on their cars. I’d hope that maybe they were secretly doing it to me as well. But if that wasn’t evidence enough of my extroversion, stopping at the Wendy’s in Fisherville, Virginia definitely was.
I walked in and they were everywhere: humans. I wanted to talk to them all; I wanted to hug them and invade their personal space. I wanted us to talk about all the things we had in common and the couple things we didn’t, and then I would prematurely add them on Facebook, secretly doubting whether I had sent them a request too soon, but convincing myself otherwise. We would talk occasionally online, sometimes reminding one another of how we met or the one time I ordered the Asiago Chicken Club, and it would all seem important again. Once I sat down, I felt distanced again… nervous, even. I didn’t want to be alone. I had convinced myself in a matter of seven minutes that Fisherville might just be the city for me to live in. No need to travel for three more hours; there were people here, and they would suffice just fine.
And as I sat there, holding back tears until the gray haired man with a small ponytail held together with a red rubber band sat down next to me (it took everything in my body to not say, hey girl, I like your weave.), it hit me… you love people way too much. As if someone had sat the social sorting hat on my head, I knew at that point, if I had ever fought the idea of it before that I was… indeed… an extrovert. And then all of my past, selfish mistakes came rushing in. For some reason, maybe because Rory Gilmore was and I wanted to be too, I thought I could at least pretend to be an introvert. I would purposefully go after introverted friends and introverted relationships. It made all the sense in the world; all the times that these people that were so like me would tell me that they needed their time to just be by themselves or think, I would completely freak out. There must be something wrong with me; my funny is obviously broken. Why couldn’t I constantly entertain them?! Why were they so weird. They weren’t introverted like me. They were nothing like me at all.
And in my own version of a Dr. Phil show, the illusion came crashing down on me today. I’ve never been close to an introvert; I couldn’t be if I wanted. And I suppose this is as good as time as ever to just go ahead and apologize for all the years of deception and loosely veiled attempts at being an introvert. I’m sorry when you said you needed “some alone time” that I interpreted that as “you should come along with me for some alone time.” I apologize for all the times that I thought that “I don’t want to talk about it” meant “Just keep asking me; I’m just trying really hard to make you work for it.” Apparently, I never really understood what it meant to be an introvert because I wasn’t ever really comprehending the concept of maybe not wanting to talk to people. I don’t understand your people, just like you don’t understand mine. But if I can promise you one thing, it’s that the claw marks on my driver’s side window don’t lie… I long for people; I suppose it’s the curse of an introvert.

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