Tag Archives: introverts

Choo Choo, All Aboard!

I’m not sure what just happened, but after a week of feeling happy, positive, and motivated, including this morning, I had a miniature meltdown.

It came so suddenly and hit me hard like a speeding train. I felt so hopeless and couldn’t stop crying. I felt alone because I barely saw my husband this week and was alone all day despite the fact that it’s Saturday, because my husband had a work event. I felt angry at my husband for leaving me alone. I felt overwhelmed with anxiety about the work week starting again on Monday, despite the fact that I’m currently working only two days a week. And I felt like trying to write was pointless, that I’ll never get better, even though I spent all morning making progress and feeling good about my story.

This meltdown is technically still happening. I’ve managed to stop crying and pull myself away from the couch, but it feels like anything might start me crying again if I’m not careful. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m trying to reason my way out of it, because there’s no reason I should feel this way.

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October 5, 2013 · 5:31 pm

Is It Just Culture Shock?

Every time I write about my feelings toward Japan, I worry I will start sounding like this guy and people will begin to hate me. Well, here I go.

Last week I wrote about losing interest in Japan. I’ve lived here a year now–two if you include my year in Nagoya in 2009–and it’s been five years since I started studying Japanese and about Japan in general. The easy answer for what I’m experiencing would be culture shock… but is that really what I’m going through?

Loneliness, Part 1: Old friends

When people experience culture shock, many mention feeling lonely because they don’t have the same group of close friends and family that they did back home. When I was still in the US, all but two of my friends lived far away, so we were already used to using the internet as our main way to interact. As for my parents, my relationship with them was and is nearly nonexistent, so nothing has changed in how I interact with friends and family.

In fact, I’m less lonely now than when I was still living in the US. Continue reading

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Filed under Japan, Personal

Making Friends Online and Keeping Offline Friends Offline

Sometimes people I know in real life ask if I use Twitter and if they can follow me. These moments are always very uncomfortable for me, and I always have some excuse to keep them away. It’s not because I don’t like them — that has never been the case. The reason is more complicated than that.

Here’s the thing. The internet is such a low-stress way to interact with other people. (It can be very stressful if, for example, you let yourself get overwhelmed by the mountains of hate people dish out by the second, but that’s another topic.) You can toss your thoughts, opinions, and art into the internet void, and eventually someone will see what you made and will talk to you about it. They will come to you. Or they will post something and you will go to them. There is very little pressure to interact in ways you don’t want to. If you have something to say, you can say it, and if you’re content saying nothing, just keep clicking.

For this reason, I think it’s so much easier to make friends online than it is in real life. For me, this is especially true of Twitter. My Twitter page is me on paper (or in pixels, rather). It’s a daily stream of my life, going back nearly five years now. Who I am is all right there for you to see, and if you like me, you’ll follow. If you don’t like me, you’ll move on. There is no uncomfortable, forced interaction. You interact with who you want to and in the way you want to.

A lot of the friends I have now are people I first met online.

A lot of the friends I have now are people I first met online.

Here’s where things get complicated.

If someone I know in real life asks if they can follow me on Twitter, it means I’ve already been interacting with them for a while. But unlike how things are online, they’ve seen only a very small, very colored portion of me. When I post things online, it’s still a small, colored portion of me, but it’s a version of me that is probably less edited and less censored than who I am when interacting with people in the flesh. I’m going to be more careful about what I say in face-to-face conversation than I am with my stream of thoughts online. And it’s for this reason I don’t feel comfortable with people I know in real life first following my exploits online. Maybe they had a different image of who I am. Maybe they will no longer like me. Things will become uncomfortable between us.

“Don’t we learn that you need to be true to yourself? Isn’t the separation of your IRL self from your online self kind of deceptive?” Yes. It absolutely is. And this is one of my greatest anxieties about face-to-face human interaction. I can’t be myself in the flesh, in the moment. I will say things I don’t really believe. I will agree to things I don’t really agree with. I don’t want conflict. I want to be liked. I want the moments to pass as smoothly as possible. I’m more myself when I have time to form my thoughts carefully. Speaking to someone in person doesn’t allow time for that. They say something, and you need to have something to say back to them NOW. It feels nearly impossible for me to be myself in person, but it’s not something I can avoid. Face-to-face interaction is inevitable.

Perhaps if I were someone more extroverted or strong-willed, I could be myself in person. But I’m not, and so I’m left feeling anxious about my never-ending in-person deception. And I’ll keep coming up with excuses to keep my real life and online life separate.

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The Quiet Days

Yesterday was one of those days where I just wasn’t “on.” After two busy days with early starts and late nights, I didn’t have the energy to handle anymore social interactions, which was difficult since I had a class to teach.

I spend a lot of time being tired.

I’m capable of being productive, social, relatively energetic. But once I’ve finished what needs to be done, I will retreat into my head. If I have free time after a busy day, I will spend most of it dozing on the couch.

And I feel really guilty about it. I know there are more things I should be doing, but during these days, I’m completely drained of energy and don’t have the will to do anything more than make coffee and eat meals.

That’s what yesterday was.

I think a large amount of the conflict from my younger years stems from my parents trying to make me behave like an extrovert and thinking something was wrong with me when I needed time away from people. I was often scolded by my stepfather for being too “antisocial.”

I also had the same pressure from teachers and friends, and I really wish they could have seen that what I needed was time to recharge. And I wish I had fought a little more to defend myself.

But now I understand myself better–what I can handle and when I need a break–and I’ll keep moving forward. That is, as long as I can avoid feeling guilty about needing my down time.

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