I am an odd person to interact with in real life.
When it comes to interacting with other people, I can get by without much trouble. People sometimes misidentify me as an extrovert because I don’t have much issues talking when I need to.
But I’m not actually an extrovert. Far from it. I can maintain that sociable persona for a little bit, but the amount of time I need alone to recharge heavily overshadows the time I can properly socialize with other people.
It can be rather offputting since people may find that they’d like to contact me through other methods like instant messaging or email. I get back to those things really fast when I’m still in that headspace to socialize. But when people message me in times that I need some solitude, they would find that I respond very late, if at all. It’s as if I went to some mountain retreat with no internet connection, except I haven’t. I see messages coming in, but I simply can’t conjure up the type of energy I need to respond to them.
This isn’t good for relationships considering its inconsistent nature. I’m well aware that this leapfrogging of small social bursts and large swathes of solitude is consistent behaviour within myself, but others may find it strange, even inconceivable. Sure, people can understand when people need some time to recharge (i.e. a few hours or days), but in my case it may take a few weeks, even months—especially when I’ve been socializing online as well as in person; online and offline interactions both drain the same batteries.
I tend to be very irritable when people intrude upon my alone time. Sometimes, I get so upset at a person who wants to interact with me during that time that I straight up ghost them, or block them entirely. It’s not the social side of myself that’s talking, it’s that side that needs time to process what is going on in the world. This can hurt people if they take it personally, which is hard not to do.
It’s not like I haven’t tried remedying this, but I realized that I can only change so much about how my brain works. I found that I could only change how I presented myself externally—taking the initiative more in conversation, being outgoing, etc. But that fundamental part of me that needs to recharge and to be alone? Impossible to change. Impossible. I’ve tried to find a way around, but it always made me breakdown, so I stopped messing with it.
This behaviour is what I call the “disappearing act”, or “becoming a ghost”. Once I’m at my limit, I find the nearest exit and don’t reappear until I’ve processed everything thoroughly and regained my composure. It’s not even premeditated, it just happens. I didn’t realize I was doing this until I started journaling and it kept cropping up again and again.
I find this part of myself cumbersome, because a lot of people don’t function in this manner. This means that I’m constantly out of sync with how people behave. I can only keep up with a person’s consistent need to socialize before I have a sudden urge to shut everyone out so that I can give myself room to breathe.
By the time I’m ready to socialize again, everyone has left the party.
The house is empty.
I am all alone.
Whether that’s sad or deserved is up to you to decide. It’s simply my reality, and I’ve learned to accept it.