This weekend I learned that I’m an introvert. Long time readers will say “Well, duh! This is not news to anyone, least of all you!” and they would be right. This weekend I felt extra introverty (It is too, a word).
I was at a lifestyle event attended by hundreds of people. I can be ok with that. I have been ok with that in the past. I stand, mostly silent, by the people I’m with, ducking my head to discreetly close my eyes if I need a visual breather and, as the kids say, it’s all good. The way this particular venue is set up, that style of “I’ll just stand here and look cute” coping mechanism doesn’t work. One has to be and do around seemingly endless chaotic stuff. There is so much seeing and doing. That’s just how it is.
Now, I’m a pretty decent actress. In a group, I can pretend that being bubbly and friendly is effortless. I can even manage to be funny on occasion. I can do it and it’s extraordinarily draining as well as extremely stressful. It’s like being the only one without a script performing in a play. Everyone else seems to know what’s going on – where to stand, what to say, what actions to perform – while I flounder around, completely lost, trying desperately to seem in the know, hoping I don’t embarrass myself or worse, my family. I hear there are people who have nightmares about being naked in public. I have nightmares about not having a script. Truth.
Nearly all of my time was spent chatting or doing for extended periods of time, and often into the wee hours. As is usually the case when one is at an event, there was no chance for quiet, opportunities for sleep were very few and, even when in bed, sleep just didn’t happen. It took more and more to recharge and tiny amounts of recharging were less and less effective each time.
After a couple of days of this, I had marshmallow brain. Professional students will understand what this is. This is how you feel at the close of the semester when all you’ve done, for days on end, is cram for exams, eating crap food and consuming tons of caffeine. Your body craves sleep but you can’t sleep because all of the information you’ve crammed into your brain is smashing into itself like a bunch of coked up psychos in a hyperactive mosh pit. When someone speaks to you, the first few words are missed. You can see their lips moving but cannot register anything they’re saying. Even when you hear words, they often come through as a twisted form of English. “Sock grass nickle frown, know what I mean?”
That’s exactly how it was for me this weekend. Repeating over and over again “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you” and “I don’t understand” ad nauseam. As the weekend wore on, the repetition became less and less helpful as fatigue stacked the deck against me. I don’t imagine I was much fun to be with as my frustration with myself grew to epic levels in direct proportion to the decline of my ability to be of any use to anyone. (Congratulations! You’ve unlocked a new achievement! Epic Stupidity: Level 500! A bunch of broccoli would function more effectively as a brain! Find a chair and sit in it because that’s all you’re good for.)
It was a great opportunity that I was/am enormously grateful for AND I feel like I ruined it utterly. I’m still beating myself up about it and, yes, I likely will be for a very long time.