It’s not always fun being an introverted writer. Take ordering something over a counter. Nightmare. I have to practice what I’m going to say again and again. And, having steeled myself to say ‘two rump steaks please,’ I’m totally unable to deal with the issue of the steaks being about the size of a credit card. I helplessly watch the butcher cut these two minuscule pieces. I think, ‘Hubby isn’t going to like this.’ And yet I still watch. All I have to say is ‘actually, could you do a larger cut?’ But he’s sliced them now. And he’s wrapping them up. I finger the twenty pound note in my purse. “That will be six pounds please,’ he says. Oh well. Our Saturday treat will be gone in two bites because I was too diffident to ask for something larger. But at least it was cheap.
I know the above example isn’t unusual among introverts. It’s certainly not in my life! But why do we react like this? The simple answer is that we’re nervous. We aren’t good with people. Ok, but why are we nervous? Do we all have low self esteem? No. Some of us do. But I don’t believe we all do. I do not. I have a perfectly healthy view of myself and, although shy around people, once I leave them I don’t care in the least what they thought of me. So why am I paralysed at a shop counter?
I’ve given this a lot of thought and, in my opinion, so many writers are introverts because we are intensely aware of people. Writers pay attention. (Unless we’re reading or daydreaming about our next storyline, competition win, TV adaption etc…) We are interested in others, we sum up personalities, speculate on relationships, invent histories. So we assume the strangers surrounding us are looking at us in the same way. We are self conscious because we feel we’re being watched. Perhaps judged. And, low self esteem or not, that’s an uncomfortable feeling. The truth is, we are inflating our own importance. Perhaps low self esteem is the opposite of the problem. We will never stop being introverted, and that’s fine, but perspective is always helpful. So, next time, let’s all take a deep breath and remind ourselves that no one cares. The butcher won’t remember we muffed up our order by the end of the day. He’s getting on with his life. Everyone is. They don’t have time for ours. Unless they’re writers too. And, if they are, maybe they’ll get a good story out of us.