I am an introvert by nature. When I was a kid I didn’t understand this. My Mum is super extroverted and had a hard time understanding the moments I hid away in my shell. My Dad is certainly more withdrawn, but that’s likely due to trust issues more than actually being an introvert.
I moved to a new place almost every year, so it wasn’t til high school that I actually made friends and it wasn’t really til college that I actually kept friends.
Now I live in Warrenton, North Carolina. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s probably because you’re not one of the exactly 820 people (according to a 2016 census) that live here. It’s small. We have two stop lights and about three restaurants. There’s a gas station and a dollar store. Everyone knows everyone by name. Food Lion is 30 minutes away. The nearest movie theatre is actually a State away in Virginia. Raleigh, the nearest big city, is nearly two hours away.
In a little over a month I’ll be moving to Limerick, Ireland. When I lived in Dublin a few years ago, it was the closest I ever came to feeling like I had a ‘home’. I’m looking forward to Limerick, but again….right now, I live in Warrenton. My grandmother stays with her boyfriend most days, and when my Dad isn’t with his girlfriend, he’s likely sleeping or working. So I’m largely alone.
All day. Every day.
I know I’m blessed. I don’t have a job, so I could be struggling, but my Dad covers everything so I’m not. My grandmother’s house is spacious and gorgeous. I’m lucky to be here. I’ve got internet, cable, Netflix, cozy blankets, a dog and a cat, food, shelter. I’m in introvert heaven.
I am so lonely.
I’ve walked up and down the Main Street just for something to do. I’ve been to all three of our restaurants. I bring my own books to the library just to read among other humans. I went to the barber shop to get my undercut trimmed, even though I have clippers and could do it myself easily. I sold my car to prepare for Ireland, so now I’m even less mobile than before. No more random trips to WalMart, the grocery store, bug-infested parks, or GoodWill. What I thought was introvert heaven has quickly become a little closer to hell.
It’s strange to think that once I thought I didn’t need anybody. I dreamt of being a recluse in my old age (I figured I’d have plenty of prizes for outstanding literature to keep me in medium-rare steaks, curly fries, and DVD box-sets for years).
I came to Warrenton from London (oh God, the culture shock) in January. Seven months later and loneliness has gone from a mild annoyance to an ache that has transformed me into something so socially malnourished it’s almost feral. I’m afraid for Limerick now. I’ve forgotten how to make friends, how to have polite small talk, how to smile when there’s nothing interesting to smile about. Did I ever know those things?
I will always be an introvert, yet I have learned a fearsome truth: I need alone time, but I don’t always want to be alone.
I suppose I will learn again how to socialise. I will adapt. I’m used to it. I have to.
I’m always the new kid.