I'm an introvert, which for me means I don't do well in crowds for very long, and I need to spend anywhere from a day to a week on my own after a day or two of partying (by partying, I meaning going to the museum and out to lunch with friends or to a convention). It also means I don't say anything unless I have something to say. I'm bad at small talk (working on it). I expect people to start a conversation with me if they want to get to know me, the same as I'll initiate a conversation if I see someone I want to talk to. I don't start chatting just for the hell of it. This puts me in the position of meeting new people. I'm okay with that because I prefer having a few intimate relationships over many acquaintances.
I like being introverted, but I also have anxiety.
When I'm anxious, making plans feels wrong. Hanging out with friends, going on job interviews, and even going out for a walk in the evening makes my gut curl up and tell me that I should not be doing this, this is wrong, and I am going to get hurt and embarrass myself beyond redemption if I continue to do what I'm doing. I have to convince myself I won't die of the most inconsequential things.
Knowing when I need time to myself because I'm introverted is good. Hiding in my room because I'm anxious is bad. My problem is: the lines are blurred between when I need time alone, and when I'm too anxious to see people. It's hard to know the difference because my anxiety always tells me to put things off.
And then there is guilt. I feel so guilty, and so anxious about all the things I should be doing that I end up staring at the wall. (On good days I stare out the window. Sometimes cardinals, blue jays, and canaries land on branches of the tree facing my side of the house. They're soothing.) But I'm also jealous of those birds. They seemingly have no order (though I know they actually do). I want to have less order. My anxiety loves order. This need for order and planning keep me from being spontaneous. It keeps me from packing a bag and heading for Ireland on a whim like the guy from my freshmen English class in college.
Anxiety serves me well in other aspects of my life. Being an anxious writer makes me productive. If I don't write, it will all stay in me and I could die at any moment so I need to write now, now, now. This is also why I read so much. I enjoy these activities more than any other pastimes, which is why my anxiety actually helps me in this aspect. I feel guilty for not writing or reading~~> I choose to do one of those activities~~> I am almost immobilized by more guilt and anxiety that I have chosen this story/book to write/read over all the others and why can't I just write and read everything at once~~>I find my groove, and the anxiety turns into rhythmic peace and relief.
I would never get anything done without anxiety, but I never get enough done with it, either. This year I've set the goal of writing and drawing every day. I've met the writing goal so far. Part of me keeps saying what, what, what are you doing? Look at your life, look at your choices. You're an introvert who has decided to hang out with her characters every day for an entire year! That is more exhausting than seeing a friend for the weekend. I have hundreds of people milling about up here, and they all want out.
This is why I've created a writing ritual involving bells. It keeps my anxiety to a minimum while I'm writing, and conditions me to feel like I've accomplished something once the bell goes off at the end of the session. I'm learning to strike a balance between when I really need to recharge and when I need to hit the ground running, and it's working. I feel better lately.