Monday, May 29, 2017

Open Letter to the Neighbors I Have Yet to Know

I feel immensely weighed down with anxiety any time I am invited to a social gathering. Kids birthday party, BBQ, potluck, holiday party…basically any event where it will be small enough to be forced into conversations with strangers but large enough to make it a bit noisy and have nowhere to hide. I don’’t just dislike these occasions, I fear them, despise them, and wish I lived on a planet with only my closest friends and family. Yet, I find myself, during those rare moments when I am feeling ok mentally and socially capable, saying “sure” to the invite. Eeek. Why do I do this to myself?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with me for being an introvert and preferring deep conversations or hilarious melt downs with the people I have known and cultivated relationships with for years. I do take it a bit to the extreme by closing my curtains some days and not getting the mail for fear of small talk, but I’m working on figuring that one out. Otherwise introversion is as normal as having allergies. I do, however, see an issue with agreeing to events and then just not showing up. I take pride in being a person of integrity and this is not in alignment with my values.

Today we were invited to a birthday party at the neighbor’s. We have great neighbors. The kind who instantly open up and invite you over. The kind who have Bbqs and drink good quality beer. The kind who let you borrow their mower anytime. The kind whose dogs play freely together in one another’s yards. I feel that we could be a part of this hood and fit in nicely….if I weren't such an introvert. I know this sucks for Benny and I don't know what to do about it. I don’t want the neighbor’s to think I dislike them or think their party is lame. I don't want them to think I lack integrity because that is just not the case. But I am too stuck in my cave today to even think of going over and explaining my neurosis.

So, I am venting here and writing as if I could tell them these things face to face. Here it goes:

Dear neighbors,
First off, nice to meet you. I am really excited to be a part of this neighborhood and raise my child here. So far, I have liked everyone Ive met on our street. You all seem very welcoming and open. These are qualities I admire and envy. I just want to let you know that I am an extreme introvert at times. Please do not take personal offense. At times I need to stay inside and recharge my battery in order to go out another day and be social….at the grocery store, at the doctor’s, at the playground. You see, social interaction with strangers takes a lot of energy for me. Unlike an extrovert, it does not feed me but instead depletes me. I need a full day or two at times to be “alone” and re-charge my social battery.
Parties are not fun for me. I just do not enjoy them most of the time. There is a rare occasion where I am feeling really healthy and have energy to spare and can show up for these events. This is the exception. I don’t mind others having parties and I will be happy to hear laughter and games from afar. I will not be attending. Please understand.
I would love to get to know you over time though. Maybe share a beer on a summer evening on your porch. Let our kids play as we silently watch or slowly unveil our histories. Please take it slowly with me though. I have a painful past and too many questions will make me run….fast.
Thank you for understanding and I look forward to living near all of you wonderful people for years to come.

Your neighborhood introvert

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