I have a strange life. Not literally, in a lot of ways it’s very traditional. I’m cisgendered, white, hetersexually-married with the classic “house in the suburbs” (including a white picket fence actually) with a very corporate “normal” full-time job. And yet, I don’t feel like I’m normal. I sometimes feel like at any moment I will step out of my own skin and go on grand adventures with magic and dragons.
And sometimes I hate the normality. I want to rebel against the corporate enclosure of dress pants, nice shirts and normal-colored hair I put on every day. I want to dye my hair silver and put on a long dress with a corset instead of a bra. I want to doff the heels (dress flats actually hurt MORE than most heels because they have NO support) and put on boots that lace to the knee – heeled or not! (I know it makes me a “real girl” but I could write a whole post on shoes – but it wouldn’t be how much I love them – my husband can attest to the hatred!)
I want to be a falconer – they still exist! I want support activists making a difference in the world. I want to ride horses (damn but it’s expensive…). I want to sing and dance and write and mentor kids…. I want to travel. God, I love traveling (and hate it sometimes… and not just because it’s expensive and I’d rather buy that juicy book). I want to be like Mary Shelley and meet awesome people and tell ghost stories with them. I want to be like Anna Lowenstein and pack my life up one day and move to the other side of the world. I want to follow in the footsteps of Jule Mannix and build a non-traditional life that works for me and my husband.
So in my head, I am constantly exploring other lives. It’s part of why I write. I want to follow them to their natural (or entirely unnatural) conclusion.
It’s terrifying. And when I look at those dreams and unpack their reality…. well a lot of them fall apart. I’m an introvert. A powerfully driven introvert who has days where I hate people. Yes, I know I love people. but I can HATE people. The people who really love travel all the time – they love people all the time. They never want to just go hide in their hotel room with a book. They want to sit at the coffee shop with a complete stranger and find just enough common language to have a conversation. That sentence reflects someone I sometimes wish I could be – but I’m not. When I meet a stranger I am damn likely to shut down. I don’t enjoy it. At all.
I would love to have a bazillion friends all over the globe who are creative and artistic and we visit one another and have awesome adventures together. It means I have to talk to people.
Granted, it’s partly my perception is that extroverts have more fun – and of course many introverts are not good at sharing how they make these same ideas fun. Being an introvert doesn’t mean I always hate people. I might always hate strangers. Once you get past stranger, I’ll probably like you just fine. But while you are in “Stranger” state – you are exhausting and terrifying and I might just kind of hate you. You are exhausting.
My perceptions of who I want to be and who I am – don’t always mesh. My skin can be an uncomfortable place because I watch the people being the person I want to be, but I don’t actually want to do what they are doing. It’s like watching someone swim with sharks. It looks thrilling, and I am super-jealous of the courage it takes to do that (or insanity – debatable). There is no way I have any desire to be in a cage with a great white gnawing on the bars. When I really imagine that, I would hate that. I know I would find that experience AWFUL for so many reasons.
So I live with this conundrum: I am jealous of the life other people live. I love my life and the people in it. I don’t want to meet new people. I want to meet more people and get past the stranger-state immediately. I want to be more like extroverts. I love being an introvert and having a rich mental life (I swear it makes me a better writer). I want to sew and cook and write and laugh and draw… and ride horses and wear long dresses with tall boots.
So, I will continue to find the quiet ways I feel balance my desire to rebel from normalcy (and sometimes modernity) and my desire to be left the hell alone by strangers . ‘Cause that is the other problem with dying my hair silver and wearing a dress with a corset – suddenly everyone would want to talk to me “why? how? where?” Shut up and leave me alone… I will figure out how to be a great introvert wishing to be more like an extrovert without losing all the awesome things that comes from the life of an introvert.