I've been called a lot of things in my day, but "extrovert" has never been one of them. Much more common are terms like "loner", "introvert", "bitch who never answers her phone", and so on. Thank the various possible Gods, I've made a few friends over the years that accept this about me, and are always there when I'm ready to come out.
I do believe, however, that I owe them all an apology -- them, as well as every asshole customer that I secretly wished death on, and every boss that I begged to let me leave early. I have taken them all for granted, and I have learned this the hard way.
I don't talk much about my personal life here, and I'm not about to start. Let's just say that, for various reasons, I up and left everything last April. Quit my job, ditched my apartment, left town. Just like that. It's certainly not the first time (or even the 5th...) I've done such a thing, but it was the first time I did it with no intention of doing anything after that. I didn't get a job right away, or even try to. I didn't have any friends waiting for me, and I made no attempt to make any. And you know, for awhile, that was really nice. It was quite freeing to have no past, no plans, no obligations. I could just be. If I wanted to write poems all day, I did that. If I wanted to spend the day telling people on Facebook how stupid they are, I did that. I spent a lot of time painting. I learned to row a boat. I spent almost a month in Pinatan, a town that consists of a lake, a one-stop shop, and a payphone. No cellphones, no computers. I read 5 novels, got a terrible sunburn, and got completely wasted at 10am. It was delightful.
Until it wasn't any more.
I began to realize I had taken my friends for granted. Being the introvert that I am, I declined most of their invitations to come out, choosing to be alone instead. Now, without even the option of seeing them, I began to wonder what the hell I'd been thinking. All those times they had wanted me around, and I had rejected them -- and now, here I was, feeling sorry for myself because there was no one here to want me around.
I even began to miss my job. Don't get me wrong, the shop I worked at before this little adventure was awesome. I loved everything about it -- the people, the atmosphere, the job itself -- but, after years of digging myself deeper and deeper into the rut that is customer service, I had reached a point of complete exasperation. Every rude customer felt like another nail in my coffin. Still, after a few months of being unemployed, I started missing even them. I hadn't realized that working in customer service was largely what had kept me connected with society at large. It forced me to talk to people -- many, many people -- everyday. That was, in fact, exactly what I hated about it. Now, it's exactly what I miss about it.
Through all of this, I've had to re-examine my position as loner. It's no secret that humans need some form of interaction with other humans, but I had no idea to just what extent. I had no idea that even dealing with an asshole customer or a rude waitress was better than talking to no one at all. After a year of general solitude, however, I take it all back. Every time I said I would rather be alone, every time I cursed having to talk to all those horrid people, every time I let my voicemail handle those pesky phone calls, every time I turned down an invitation -- I take it back.
That's not to say I have changed my introverted ways. I don't think that will ever happen; I think I will always need time alone, time to recharge, and I will probably not ever love the idea of large parties or giant crowds of strangers. But I have learned the value of having people in my life. I've learned that, without people to share it with, life quickly becomes dull and drab. And I've learned that the next time someone wants to go for a drink, I should probably say yes.