Here’s the story of introversion, my brain, and pigeon pancakes.
How the hell do you run over a pigeon? I mean, they have wings. How suicidal must a pigeon be for it not to fly away when a truck comes hurtling toward it? Fair enough, it may have been injured, but it still had legs. I suppose the possibility remains that both its wings and legs were damaged, in which case, it may have wanted to be put out of its misery. I saw this. It was like a pancake. A pancake of piegony gooeyness. It’s like when hedgehogs get run over. How do the spikes not puncture the tyres? There are more pressing concerns in the world, but none are more apt at summing up how I felt this week than a pancaked pigeon. Sentences I never thought I’d say number 37…
Come to think of it, if that pigeon was completely crippled, why did nobody go and help it? I mean, I wouldn’t because I hate pigeons, but surely there must be someone in the world who would save the poor disgusting wretched disease ridden fleabag. I’d hate to be the man who had to clean that up. It’s been there for a week, so clearly the man who has to clean that up aint cleaning it up. Do you want me to stop talking about a dead pigeon? Okay, let’s talk about lemon cakes. I hate lemon anything. About as much as I hate pigeons.
I was on yet another course this week that left me feeling like a big pile of lemons and pigeons. Hey, they are far more related than you may think. They’re both birds, after all. Oh, wait, no – that’s lemmings. Never mind…
Where’d that tumbleweed come from?
You have no idea how small the room I was in was. I mean, we’re talking a good old 10 yards long and around four wide. There were 19 people in there. Including me. You know how much I struggle with my severe borderline unbearable introversion. I don’t like being in a room with one person, never mind 18 of them. You could put me in a mile long warehouse by myself and I’d hate the company.
They do it, of course, to build one’s confidence. And that’s fair enough, but I’ve been on several of these courses now and they’re not building anything. They’re trying to build a skyscraper on quicksand. There was an exercise this week where we all had to stand up and do some sort of pose a famous superhero does. We then had to say what our superhero was. I didn’t do it. I told the teacher I would not do something so humiliating and embarrassing in front of a mirror never mind in that place. Jesus, it was like asking someone with social anxiety to run down a busy street naked…
Did I get shouted at for it? Yes. Did I care? Not a jot. If you’re born shy you’ll die shy. There is no cure. I was almost forced onto an army course once to ‘build confidence and character’. I have a dicky knee. I can’t swim. I’m afraid of heights. I have low blood sugar that often leads to fainting, especially during heavy exercise. I have hay fever, the symptoms of which show up when I run a lot, for some reason. I’m tired all the time. I get migraines. I get severe panic attacks in water. I can’t ride a bike. My heart isn’t in the best shape. I don’t really like people. And I’m a pacifist! Yeah, you know what, I’m a great candidate for the army, aren’t I?
You could send me to the army. Or any force. You can make me do presentations and superhero nonsense. You could hypnotise me. You could send me to a therapist. But there is not a single person on this planet that isn’t shy that has any idea what it’s like to be apocalyptically terrified by everything. The only people who can understand us are ourselves, and we don’t make good therapists. You need a full range of emotions for that and we have one, maybe two. On a good day. And I rarely have a good day. Until you know what it’s like to walk into a shop and be struck down by fear, panic and a bucket load of sweating, purely because you’re in a public place, then shut up and stop telling me to pretend to be a friggin’ superhero!
I don’t want to be a superhero. I know many little boys do but I never did. I wanted to be an architect. It’s probably why I didn’t have any friends as a kid. Still don’t. Should really give up things I like, shouldn’t I? They’re not getting me anywhere. Who my age likes landscape and city photography these days? Or town planning? Or documentaries on BBC 4? Or Radio 4? Or BBC 7? Nobody, that’s who! Just wait until I get old. That’s when I’ll meet people who understand me and my relentless gibberish…
I often say we’re better as a planet with quieter people than without, but it aint half hard. I had to get two buses to this course. In another town altogether. You have no idea how sweaty I was on the morning of the first day. ‘What if the bus doesn’t turn up?’ ‘What if I get on the wrong one?’ ‘What if I don’t have the correct change?’ ‘Where’s my stop?’ ‘What if I miss my stop?’ ‘What if something goes wrong?’ Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
I spent hours planning that journey. Days, even. Scribbling down the bus times onto my mobile telephone (it doesn’t have the internet). Working out the routes. Visualising the way to the building I had to be in. Planning countless alternate routes if something went wrong or there was a delay. And none of it helped. Every second of that journey I got hotter and hotter, sweatier and sweatier, whiter and whiter, so on and so forth. And the thing is, if you’re shy, your brain won’t let you not do these things. It won’t switch off. You can’t sleep without doing these things. It’s one endless doubt after another.
I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the town I went to has a dangerous high street. They’ve just done it up and it’s where all the buses stop. In the last six months, five people have been accidentally run down and another killed by the buses. That was a worry I didn’t need. I’m alive, by the way. I made it to the end of the week unharmed. Which you probably guessed or I would’ve started this post with, ‘OH MY GOD, I’M IN SO MUCH PAIN!’
The course was rather boring but quite useful. The teacher paired me up with several of my peers. I didn’t do too well, readers. I can’t talk with strangers and I mumble. And I’m quiet. Very quiet. There were several massive personalities in the group who made no bones about it that I was incredibly quiet and difficult to work with. And they’re right. Shy people are useless. Must be. They all agreed on that point. We live in a democracy, right? Majority always wins? Seems about right.
Teacher was nice, though. Had many one-to-ones. Told me that I shouldn’t be so afraid. That it’s all in my head. That I’m not a victim of the extroverts. That I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and that I have far more skills and qualities than I ticked on a sheet at the start of the course. There were 50 things on that sheet. FIFTY! I ticked seven. Genuinely not kidding. You’d agree with them, readers. I’m not good at anything. I’ve probably been depressing you for the last 10 minutes. I’m good at that, I s’pose.
The teacher said that she once was an introvert, but that she once did something that changed her life. She did karaoke. But you would not get me on a stage. Not because of lack of will but because of a lack of physical ability. I’ve been in situations like that. My heart beats so fast I struggle to breathe and I have to sit down. I was once in a situation where I had to get up in front of a large crowd and I genuinely thought I was having a heart attack. My chest was all tight and tingly and my arm was going numb. I was fine until somebody told me to get up on stage! And after they told me I didn’t have to, I was fine again! My body doesn’t like me very much does it?
Thank heavens I have my three blogs. Only places I can be myself.
So what now? I don’t know, I’m tired. I need sleep. Lots and lots of sleep. I’ve been getting up at six for five days. If you ask any nearly 25-year-old to get up at that hour for five days, I think you’ll find it is equivalent the world’s fattest man getting to the top of Mount Everest in under a week. I have a hypnosis alarm clock. It plays soothing sounds and a woman talks me into hypnosis. And she slowly wakes you up and it’s all very lovely. A female American accent is a very sexy start to the day…
I haven’t stopped yawning since I started writing this post, I’ve started sniffing and I have a sore throat. Being around people, you know. Germs, ew. So I’m going to collapse face down on my bed and probably not wake up for a couple days. And hopefully when I do, I’ll be like a reanimated unflattened pigeon.
Sentences I never thought I’d say number 38…
American author, Criss Jami (b. 1987), once said, “Telling an introvert to go to a party is like telling a saint to go to hell.”
Peace Out :|:
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