NON FICTION: Introverts Have No Place In This World

Woman standing alone

Photo: Ivan Karasev

“I suspect more damage has been done to my sanity in jail, in months; than years, decades, in the woods.” —Christopher Knight

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The first time I heard about Christopher Knight, I thought I had found my spirit animal. He’s the last true hermit who ran away into the woods, just so he could be alone.

He braved harsh winters and survived in the wilderness for 27 years, before he was finally caught for trespassing and burglary.

I had mixed feelings about his arrest, because on one hand, he did steal people’s belongings, but on the other hand, there’s only so much food and gas you can find in the wild.

Yet, after determining that Knight didn’t want to be part of society, everybody from budding journalists to big names like The Today Show wouldn’t leave him alone.

It’s ironic how the more you want to be left alone, the more people want to know why.

Now, I don’t think I’m anywhere near hermit-status, but fuck me if I sometimes wished I didn’t have to explain wanting to be alone to anybody.

I’d like to think of myself as a normal introvert, but even that is like living in a world of runners, with a limp in my gait.

“Let’s run!” people would say. “You’d look funny if you walked.”

“No, I’m fine. You go on ahead,” I’d reply.

“But you gotta run! Why won’t you run?”

“I’ve got a bad leg, you see. It’s okay. I’ll catch up with you. Just don’t mind me.”

“Nonsense! Don’t be a weirdo. C’mon!”

“But I have this limp—”

“Just do it. Nobody cares.”

“O-okay fine.”

“Why are you running like that? You look stupid.”

“I told you I have this limp—”

“You’re weird.”

But wait, I hear you say. If you’re going to use the running metaphor, wouldn’t you improve through constant training?

You may be right, but you can only run so fast with a figurative limp.

I’ve been an insurance salesman, worked retail, waited tables, became an educator, then spent 6 years of my life in the service industry. I think I’ve done all the training I could.

And I still can’t make myself want to regularly spend time with people.

“Why don’t you want to come out for drinks?”

That’s a 5km run right there.

“You sure you wanna miss out on this gathering?”

No to half-marathons.

“Let’s get a few drinks at a crowded place where no one’s really comfortable, then grab some supper with people we barely know!”

I’ll pass on that ultra-distance run, thank you.

I’ve always tried to play this down as me being anti-social—or just lazy in general—but those excuses don’t seem to make the cut anymore. And that’s great, because it’s about time I stop making excuses.

I’m getting tired from all this running, and I think it’s about time I slow down and walk to my own beat.

The world isn’t built for introverts, but that doesn’t mean we have to feel bad whenever we avoid doing something we truly don’t want to do.

Some of you may find this a calloused approach to life, and you may be right. However, I only have a set amount of energy, and I’m not going to waste it trying to convince you to leave me alone.

It’s just that… if I ever blue-tick you on WhatsApp, or reject your offer to dinner, don’t take it personally. It’s not you. It’s me. Really.

In the end, who am I to tell you what to do? You do you, because I’m gonna do me.

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