Tribes and Introverts

I’ve been subscribing to Project Reverb’s monthly prompts for awhile now and (obviously) haven’t been doing it. Well, I’m doing it. At least this one. But wait… what’s Project Reverb? It was started early 2000s and, I believe, was initially December only. There are daily reflections to post about on your past year. I’m not sure at what point they started doing monthly prompts throughout the year, but I joined up in 2015. You can find more information and sign up here or here. Now back to the post…

February’s prompt was “Tribe”. Is anyone else tired of that word? Does anyone else associate it with, “Join my tribe and we can make lots of money together!”?

Setting that word aside, the rest of the prompt tells me to reflect on “our inherent need to belong and to experience things together as a community.” This is where I tend to struggle. I recognize the importance of community and I know it can be a good thing. There are benefits to being a part of a community – I’ve been on the giving and receiving ends. But… do I have an inherent need to belong? Yeah, I suppose I do. I want people to like me. I want them to feel comfortable coming and talking to me. I want to be invited to stuff, but whether or not I say yes is a COMPLETELY different issue. Therein lies my struggle.

A few years ago, I read a book by Meghan Rowland & Chris Turner-Neal: The Misanthrope’s Guide to Life (Go Away!). I loved it. I identified with a good bit of it. I’m not totally convinced I’m a misanthrope, but I’m pretty close. There’s even a quiz! (I love a good quiz. Who am I kidding? I even love the stupid/silly ones). According to this one, I’m “probably a normal, run-of-the-mill person with some misanthropic tendencies. Company retreats and potluck dinners are probably hard for you [they are], but you can usually get through the day without hiding in a stairwell…” The second quiz (I KNOW right?) determines what kind of misanthrope you are. The people who know me will not be surprised to hear that it deemed me an Avoidant type – locked door, turned-off phone and if there’s a way out, I WILL find it. That said, there were a couple questions where my response was a written in “None of the above – that’s just MEAN!” A nice misanthrope – see? That just doesn’t make sense, therefore, I’m not really one of them. It’s more of an introvert thing, I believe.

Most of the time, I’d rather be by myself. I’d probably make a pretty good hermit, but there are a few people I’d miss. I’d share the secret passage to my place with them. And there are a few fellow introverts who I would also gladly share my space with as long as we also each had our own space. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t make a very good hermit. In large groups, though, I tend to stay on the outskirts and observe and listen. Sometimes I think it would be nice to get into the middle of the action and just have fun, but I’m not gonna lie, that thought also scares me. What if I do something stupid? What if I look like a fool? What if What if What if What if What if… I really hate “What if” sometimes.

Insecurity plays a part, though introvert does not always equal insecure. I remember summer band camps at UGA. No one knew me there. I could dress as funky as I wanted to because no one there knew me when I rarely had anything “in.” Plus size AND in style in the 80s was a bitch to find and once it was available, well, anyone who’s been there knows how hard it is to move up in the social hierarchy that is middle school. Anyway, at these band camps I could dress and act as confident as anyone else and be perfectly fine. I loved it! I can now put on the “confident” mask and sometimes it’s not a mask. Sometimes I really do feel confident in what I’m doing or talking about. But sometimes, that insecure kid will poke her nose out and ask, “What if?” Somewhere along the line, that voice started getting quieter. I learned to laugh at myself (that REALLY messes with a bully’s head, by the way) and I learned that the best response to that insecure little kid asking, “but what if it fails?” is a slightly breathless and passionate “Oh, but what if it DOESN’T?”