We'd spent nearly every waking moment together for almost a fortnight, and it doesn't matter who I'm with or what we're doing, after a while I don't feel right.
Sensory stimulus leeches energy from introverts, which is why so many of us are quiet and reserved.
Listening -- actually hearing and making record of the words other people use to communicate -- takes energy. Speaking -- translating the internal into agreed upon language and transmitting it -- takes energy. Being outside and open is exhausting for someone who lives in their head, but the reason you recharge something is so you can use it; introverts don't necessarily prefer being alone, they just need it every now and then in order to be around others (which is what life is all about, I'm told).
The silence between beats is just as vital to music as the noise. Right?
With all this on my mind and no easy, inoffensive way to tell someone to "go away," the train to Brighton became a gauntlet. My shoulder was a headrest for the girl and my left arm a clutching post. What would normally be a pleasurable experience was bordering on excruciating, and I know that makes me odd, dramatic, ridiculous -- but this is what I'm like.
Once we'd arrived, poked around for a bit, and met up with her friends, I was finally able to make an excuse and escape.
"I'm going to the internet cafe down the street," I explained.
"Wot you doin' there?" someone asked.
"I have some work to do," I said.
And I walked away because it takes too long to explain.
The internet cafe was shut, metal doors locked and no hours of operation posted so I walked past it, down the block, down another, crossed a few streets, removed a beer from my bag for casual sipping, and arrived at a park. It's legal to drink publicly in England (unless otherwise posted), so I did that while sat on a wooden sheep and watched the busy, filthy skatepark.
The Level teemed with people and weedsmoke wafted from somewhere upwind, but people aren't people unless I know and love them, and I only really use drugs as social lubricant or to maximize my alone time. Being in a crowded park by myself and with headphones on, drinking a beer -- that's a rapid charge.
People I don't know can't take energy from me because I don't listen to them or tell them anything.
Being alone to recharge specifically means being away from loved ones, and I'll never be able to fully explain it -- so just take my word for it: too much of the same thing (no matter how pleasant) breeds resentment in social introverts.
It didn't take long and I was back to thirty percent battery (the beer, as I said, accelerated the process). This allowed me to start looking around and actually seeing my surroundings.
Brighton is a miniature London injected with students and natural trendiness. It's what every hipster haven aspires to be: genuinely odd and full of irreplicable uniqueness. This is, of course, telling and not showing, but that's all I could muster at thirty percent -- so I stopped writing at the end of this sentence and went for an exploratory mission to continue my charge, the park having grown familiar after half an hour.
Work is not solely about making money. This is work for me: writing. And I'm glad to have it even if nobody will pay me to do it (and even if my only readership is family).
But it is work. And that's why I love it.
I think western society misunderstands work, sees it as a means to an end only.
Even some fellow writers seem more interested in making money from writing than actually doing the work. This is a misconception that breeds unhappiness. It's true that humans need to be interested in what they are doing, but work is fulfilling in itself as well. It's possible, for example, that your garbage man is happier in his work than you (if you only have a job to pay rent). And he works with garbage.
I wrote for another hour at a stupid Starbucks, because they're a consistent source for free wifi and toilets around the planet. Finding the both of those is a common side quests for an international vagabond.
Toilets are limited and long between, typically reserved for customers, and are unpredictable. Gas stations do not usually have them. Neither do convenience stores. Often, they won't have seats.
Some public toilets even cost a small fee -- it's nuts.
And although I thought writing about this would be interesting and helpful, the more I think about it... you really just have to figure it out on your own and make sure to always utilize when you have the chance. If you pay for accommodation or a meal, use the toilet. Done.
Internet has become akin to required and I obviously need it if only for this online diary, so I'm constantly shifty-eyed for one of those emblem. Cafes are havens for these things and tea is cheap. A couple pounds buys you internet, a toilet, and caffeine, so reserve yourself to the way things are.
Once I'd gotten some work done, I found myself to be a liar: this Starbucks did not provide a toilet.
Caffeine is a natural diuretic and my knee had been bouncing for longer than I'd noticed.
Outside, the streets had gone gray and most everywhere was closed for the evening, metal shutters pulled down, padlocked. The Snooper's Paradise had endless knick-knacks and bric-a-brac displayed in the windows, but I had to pee fierce, fast, or in my pants, so I ran.
And returned to the Level. Vandalism forced the toilets to be locked after four. A sign directed me to the Open Market, which was surprisingly not open. I did a dance, then wandered counter-clockwise until I found a pub. It was busy enough for me to not make a purchase and still appear a customer, so I took a nice, lengthy -- albeit uncomfortable and germ-ridden -- dump in the men's rest.
Mission accomplished and my phone rang.
Alone time was finished and my batteries at fifty-one. That's enough to be around people I care about. The girl and her friends (people I care about despite my cold tone) were at the very pub in which I'd found relief, so we met for more interaction before the girl and I began our long journey back to London.
The departure board listed the nine o'clock train as "cancelled."
This meant an extended wait (forty-five minutes) before we could start the already tedious trip north, but there was a piano set up in the station and passersby kept a constant concert.
Each pause between pianists allowed delicate preparation for the next willing and practiced player. The girl and I sat happily to listen.
The last thing I'll say about being an introvert is that there isn't actually a display showing our social battery life -- I just guessed at the recharge rates for the sake of illustration. It's only evident that my energy has run out once it's gotten to zero, and it's not on anyone else to prepare for this except for me.
hen introverts get caught up and stay longer than they should, that's how the Irish Exit happens, bye.