Dreaming Dark Thoughts

We’re living through dangerous times—I keep reading this. Isolating, lonely, dreaming dark thoughts. Degrading mental health. Well people become depressed, too much time alone, too much time in their heads. Extroverts. I feel for them, I do.

Today my company gave me a Panera gift card. The money they would have spent on a holiday party, split forty ways. Enough for a nice lunch. Carry out. Dining in is not an option, not now, not in Pennsylvania. A sandwich at my desk. Party!

It’s cool. It’s what I do every day. I like it

Last year before the holiday party, I practiced with Susan. We strategized. I identified people I might talk with. Stored discussion topics in my back pocket. Devised ways to look engaged even when I felt isolated—isolated in a room full of people. I got through it that time. My planning paid off. I think I put up a good front, looked comfortable. I might have made a friend—a year later, I still not sure. We say hi.

Tonight, I sat home with my family. We watched an episode of Futurama. I read for a while, wrote a bit. A year ago, my night would have left me uneasy, made me question what I’m getting out of life. I might have ranked myself a loser, unpopular, uncool. Tonight, I took comfort in knowing that everyone in the world did exactly the same thing.

I now fit in.

The pandemic is winding down. Ok, actually it’s raging, 730,000 people got sick today, a third of them in the United States. We’re a long way from done, but a second vaccine was approved today by the FDA. For developed countries, the end is in sight. 2022 should be back to normal. Extroverts will mingle, throw parties, work functions, gatherings. Introverts will suffer; we’ll meet social obligations despite discomfort and dream dark thoughts. I’ll miss these days when everyone stayed home and kept to themselves. When I felt normal.

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

23 thoughts on “Dreaming Dark Thoughts

    • Celebrity Vaccination – good one. It seem like you’ve already got thoughts on that, I’ll let you write it. You bring up a good point. Even though I prefer to avoid public events, they still exist and I need to attend. After this year, it will feel like I’m starting over on trying to feel comfortable at such events. Blah.

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  1. Right?! I like people, individually and in small doses. I havent worked since 2000, so staying at home was no hardship. If school hadn’t closed I might not have noticed 😂 The masks would’ve clued me in.

    Maybe, just maybe, those extroverts will have a little empathy for those of us who can’t handle the brouhaha.

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    • Based on the articles I read, I don’t think the extroverts even understand that there are people who crave being alone. After a week of lockdown, I started going back to work because I needed my office files to work. Once I was going in everyday, lockdown felt exactly like pre-lockdown, only my kids were home more (which I saw as a bonus).

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  2. I hate planning to go to my work’s Christmas party every year. We end up going, sampling the food and drink, say brief hello to a few people, and get our picture taken. It can last all of an hour and then we’re out of there. Then we’re usually glad we went, but yeah if I didn’t at least have my partner I’d feel even more out of place. I hate those things.

    A couple nights ago they did a virtual Christmas party with entertainment. I was happy to nope out and get on with my life, lol. Moving day today.

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    • I’ve heard about some companies moving their party to a virtual format. It’s like socializing is an addiction. What sort of entertainment? The only thing I can think of that actually sounds entertaining is a magician. I hope your move comes off without a hitch. Not envious of the unpacking phase, but once it’s done, think how happy you’ll be.

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  3. Today I have to go to a backyard get together with three other couples to stand around a couple of campfires to have a Christmas thing. I’ve spent the past three days sulking. My outfit is easy – winter coat, winter boots, hat, scarf, and mask. The conversation is not. Bob said we can take two cars and I can leave after an hour. Oh and my watch. I’ll be wearing my watch so I can leave as soon as my 60 minutes are up.

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    • Does Bob, as an extrovert, truly understand? I get the feeling that they aren’t able to fathom the discomfort we feel. They think that everyone is looking for the same thing–conviviality. Start working now on your discussion topics and your departure excuse. You’ll make it through. 🙂

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      • No, he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t realize how hard it is or physically uncomfortable I am at the event or the hours and days leading up to it. I’ll get stuck with the wives. I am trying to remember all their kids names to ask about them. And either something with the kids or something I need to do for Christmas is my out. I have to make sure Bob and I have the same story too.

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      • Yes, that is it. I prefer to just stay quiet, but then I get questions asked about me. Then I say something stupid and get questionable looks. If I try to join a conversation, I usually say something that is just off point -To stay safe, I try to regurgitate some thought that I had read somewhere. I just hate the whole thing. I’ll stay quiet as long as I can, just nod and laugh when the others do.

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  4. I’ve been loving not having to make excuses when invited to some function, so I’m not looking forward to returning to that “normal.” Yet, like many introverts, I do like to be included/thought of, even if I’m going to decline most invites.
    It took several years of practice but I did eventually learn the art of small talk: ask personal (but not too personal) questions and let the other person talk about themselves. I’m terrible at initiating a conversation in big groups; so much easier if someone approaches me for a one-on-one. I dislike the entire social dance of parties, though; the small talk/chit chat leaves me feeling empty, that my time has been wasted when I’d much prefer to be home with my dogs and a book! Exhausting.

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    • My small-talk muscle gets smaller and smaller every year. I know it’s something I need to turn around but it’s just so hard to do it. With my daughter home, I’m getting some practice. She has a lot more to say than the rest of us. I’m actually in some sustained conversations now and again. Writer/runners: we have to be the most introverted people on earth.

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  5. God, yes! It has been such a relief and a weight off my shoulders this year, to not have to find excuses to not attend social events of all kind. I do hope the pandemic will be over soon and I am sad for all the people who have lived through tragedy this year, but I am not really looking forward to things being back to ‘normal’…

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    • WordPress is the only place where I feel comfortable making this point. I thought about putting something similar (but shorter of course) on Facebook and I envisioned people slamming me as insensitive. I’m already trying to plot how I can ease back into the world as a more social being. But when I try, I am likely to just find it uncomfortable and back off.

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  6. Bill and I made the decision to shut down all socializing until the vaccine and it’s killing me! I miss the holiday parties, the get-togethers with a few close friends, the family gatherings, running club functions, etc. I think you are right, Jeff. I took the Myers-Briggs personality test once, years ago, as part of a teacher in-service day. I am an extrovert, but just barely (maybe 60/40). Extroverts, even marginal ones like me, have a hard time understanding the preference to NOT socialize.

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    • Fortunately Susan and I are on the same page on this. When I drank (a lot) I was pretty extroverted. She wasn’t so crazy about me always wanting to go out. I hope things settle down soon so you can start socializing again. I’m a little envious about the running club thing. I tried several times, I just couldn’t enjoy it.

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      • Here is the thing about running club (although maybe you would disagree) – I get bored running in the same places near my house all the time. When running club is functioning the way it normally does, we run at a different location each week from March – November. You can interact as much or as little as you like with other runners during the run. Everyone runs at his or her own pace. Part 2 is where all the socializing takes place and that part is, of course, optional. Normally, in the early spring and fall, Part 2 is at a restaurant, so if you go, you’re kind of trapped waiting for your food. In the summer, it’s at someone’s house, so you can go, eat, and leave if you want to. Thursday nights and Sunday mornings are for trail runs with a different set of “rules”.

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  7. Pingback: Dreaming Dark Thoughts - Immigration Debate

  8. It’s weird how much this resonates with me, despite the fact I am not an introvert. Never have been one. But, I’m not sure I qualify as an extrovert, either. You’d have to like a lot more people than I currently do in order to qualify, I think.

    It has been rough getting through this weekend. The depression I have currently been ‘enjoying’ means that I have not written, nor have I accomplished much of note. Though, I did shower AND change my sheets today. This was noteworthy enough that I might actually write about it. And that is the level of sad we are currently enjoying on my end. (Forgive the Royal We–I’ve been watching The Crown and some of the vernacular is sticking.) If you have showered, it’s a good day. Now I am going to try and do some work. That would make it a stellar day. Fingers crossed it does not sink to a ‘Netflix Bing-a-thon’ level of desperation instead.

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    • Thanks for reaching out. Parenting a special needs child is a recipe for isolation. When my kids were tweens, we grew increasingly isolated because it was easier than trying to fit in. Shower and change the sheets – both are long overdue for me and I’m not even depressed. I’m doing a thing this winter where I only shower every other day. Good for my skin, but it often stretches through most of the third day. You’d think I’d want to change my sheets more often, right? Email me if you want to ‘talk’ more.

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      • I appreciate the offer to ‘talk.’ I’m not a huge phone person. (Though, I easily spend hours wasting my life away surfing on the damned thing. The only thing dirtier than my sheets is the phone.) I would make a joke about my browser history, but it would be a lie. I try not to lie to people I like.

        I will keep you as my emergency speed dial when the ‘boy’ related stuff comes up. So far, I’ve had a don’t ask, don’t tell policy regarding the masculine side of my teenager’s life. As long as he gets a shower and uses deodorant, I feel that’s a win. No need to poke the bear, so to speak. I might want some insights into shaving…if you had boys, but even if you yourself ran into issues with learning the skill. So far, my kid has three chin hairs to speak of. So, as long as I catch them before they’re too long, I’m happy.

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