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You know how there are beauty gurus all over Youtube?

Well my friend, we’ll call her Cat, should be an introvert guru. Did you know there was an option in the Whatsapp messenger to turn off the double blue checkmarks that notify your friends you’ve read their messages? She shutdown more than one unwanted advance by telling them her name was Annie and that she was moving away soon. And the amount of times I heard one of her housemates complain that she didn’t answer her door when they knew she was in there, is astounding.

She pulled off the play of the game the other day.

Now as some of you socially challenged people know it is so so important to get clarification of plans, especially when you’re hanging out with a group. We introverts have to mentally prepare, save enough energy to deal with the rigors of… well… other people basically. You can’t tell me we’re going shopping then suddenly change it to a kickback at your friend’s house. That requires two completely different reserves of energy. To us it’s like asking someone to take a walk, then entering them in the Boston Marathon. We literally didn’t sign up for this.

Like many an introvert before her, Cat decided to “branch out” or “put herself out there” and make some new friends. She met up with some people from her school and was under the impression that they would all go to a pub and hang out and talk. This is what she prepared herself for. Obviously, this is not what happened. Her new acquaintances decided they really wanted to go see a movie. They selected a movie she did not want to see and were really excited about it. She didn’t want to be rude and she was still feeling a touch of the adventurous spirit, so she didn’t raise a fuss.

Cut to forty minutes later and she is really not feeling this film, at all, yet quickly realizing her new pals are really into it. So what does this savant of seclusion do? She just leaves. And not, “Oh, I don’t feel well” leaves or “Fake emergency” leaves. She just excuses herself and goes to catch a bus.

Show me the ways of the force, Master Cat. These are not the hermits you’re looking for.

I know what you’re thinking, you, you beautiful blossoming extrovert. You awesome gregarious social butterfly. What is so harrowing about going to the movies as an introvert? Darkness, no pressure to talk, shouldn’t this be your ideal social event?

To wit, I present to you…

J.R.’s Incredible List of Horrible Things about Going to the Movies (with Friends)

1. Shy and Specific Don’t Really Mix Well
It is true not all introverts are shy, but it is also true that we tend to be more introspective than most. This has a tendency to read as shy because we don’t really enjoy chit chat. If we’re going to expend our social energy we’d prefer it be more meaningful. But for those who are in fact shy, going to movies in a group is kind of a nightmare. We don’t want to waste our attention (and money tbh) on a movie we’re not interested in, but don’t want to accidentally insult someone or throw off the group dynamic by voicing a dissenting opinion. Especially when we’re with majority strangers.

2. Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Gatherings of large amounts of people in one area, even when you don’t necessarily have to talk to them is exhausting. What if you don’t get there early enough to get an aisle seat assuring that you don’t have to sit next to a complete stranger? What if you sit on the row with the kid who can’t control their bladder, and the parent has to keep escorting them to the bathroom every 20 minutes? What if you keep accidentally touching that guy’s elbow? Does he hate you now? Is he a witch? Will he curse your entire bloodline?! Or even worse, what if your seat neighbor wants to… chit chat? Oooh, too scary, think of puppies. Think of puppies.

3. The Seating Situation
I just mentioned the aisle seat. The aisle seat is so important. It is the physical embodiment of escape… and a cause of intense panic if someone else in your group also wants it. Of course you give it up, because you don’t want the friction. So now you’re either forced to sit in the middle of two people you’re not familiar with; or sit on the end, outside of the conversation loop, and possibly next to some random person. Even more daunting is the dreaded “seat centurion” duty. Somehow the quietest person always ends up with the job of guarding the seats while their companions take an extended mission to mars right before the film starts. Happens every time.

4. Don’t Drink
Going to the toilet. I’d rather light myself on fire than get up in the middle of a packed theater and go to the bathroom. First of all, not only do I feel like everyone is giving me the stank eye for standing up in the middle of the action, but somehow I always manage to make eye contact with the person sitting behind me. And of course once you make it to the bathroom your inner clock starts ticking, because you don’t want your friends to think “She’s been gone a long time. She’s probably pooping.” No, no I wasn’t. Don’t think about me pooping. If I get up in the middle of a movie, just assume an evil fairy placed a spell on me when I was a baby and that this was the day I could hear the spinning wheel calling me to prick my finger. You know, common decency.

5. Post-Movie Wrap
What do you do when you hated the movie and everyone else liked it? This isn’t a problem if you’re not a shy introvert or you went with people you’re comfortable with. But if you are shy or have a touch of the good old anxiety, then what? If you crap all over it it will seem like you’re rejecting them and their tastes. Or if you’re good and dysfunctional like me, you dissociated for half the movie and can’t contribute constructively to the conversations cause you were imagining how you’d handle a zombie invasion if it broke out in the theater.

The answer to the last one, according to my new hero, is just avoid the situation all together and peace out before the second act.

To the theater! On a Tuesday afternoon though.
J.R.H.

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