Maybe that’s why no one ever leaves me alone. They fear the conquering of a superior force.
Seriously, though, when I am left alone, I am a powerhouse. I can accomplish any task. If you leave me alone long enough, something is going to get cleaned, something is going to get baked, and a to-do list will be completely scratched off.
Alas, the number of times in any given week I am left alone for more than ten minutes at a stretch wouldn’t require you to use any toes to count. Probably not even your left hand or any fingers with rings on them. And for reasons I’ve never completely understood, when I am in the presence of others I simply can’t get it done at the same rate.
There’s a theory in particle physics which I only vaguely understand that says that the very act of observing something affects the outcome. I think that’s my problem. When I’m being observed, the outcome is different.
I think this a problem for introverts everywhere. For us, other humans are like energy rods, sucking the energy in the room into their own orbits, to be used for their own purposes. Completely messing up the scientific metaphor here (bite me, literalists, even though I am one, usually) it is only when we are alone that our weak magnetic pull can draw the energy into ourselves enough for us to become productive.
This is why, conversationally, our wit sparkles when composed at a keyboard. We think of clever things to say, prepare beautiful turns of phrase, and make witty retorts and intelligent counterarguments. We can do this because we are the only real, live people in the room. Virtual people don’t suck our functional brain energy away from us in the way that real people do. In person, we will think of the clever line about ten minutes too late when the timing is off. In front of a keyboard, I can dash off a Facebook response almost before the original ‘speaker’ has finished typing what they had to say in the first place.
People sometimes confuse our silence in crowds with shyness. And maybe some of us are shy, but not all of us. I’m not shy at all. I will talk to anyone about anything so long as I get the sense that the thing I’m talking about is remotely interesting to the person who is forced to listen to me. I don’t mind talking in front of large audiences. If I know what I’m talking about, I’m not scared of saying it to a crowd. To sum up, I can talk to one person, or I can talk to a thousand people. It’s the in between that throws me off.
I can never quite get the rhythm of group conversations. I’m not sure if this is because of my innate lack of social skills, or the fact that I was brought up in a loud, New York, Jewish family in which everyone talked at the same time for efficiency’s sake. I’m aware that what I consider ‘normal’ most people consider interrupting, and so I try not to. Instead, I turn over what I want to say in my head while the other person is talking until I have it just right and….by then someone else has jumped in the conversation and it has moved on and what I want to say isn’t relevant any more.
Well, it’s a good thing I have a blog, and a good thing I’m at a stage in my life where I can call myself a writer without feeling like too much of a liar. Writing gives me my voice.
Now, please leave me alone for a moment. I have some writing to do. When I’m finished, then I will take over the world.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.