Monday, August 26, 2013

On Being A Closet Wallflower

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"And so being young and dipped in folly,
I fell in love with melancholy" - Edgar Allan Poe

The main problem with being a loner in a city of 8.5 million people is that you're never alone. There's always people to meet, things to do, places to go. And there's Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, always always tracking you, whether you want them to or not. Your life is social, public. Being a hermit, being alone with your thoughts is so much easier in the burbs.

So here I come out. I am a wallflower. I like to stare pensively out of rainy windows and write depressing ruminations and listen to irrelevant folk music and contemplate my mistakes and the universe in general. If left untouched, I can realistically not leave my apartment for weeks. All I need is a pen and a piece of paper and good music.

But people always creep in. I'm a pretty likeable person. I just dislike socializing. But because I'm a likeable person, people don't always understand that. So I'm taken so events, concerts, birthdays, nights out, bars, movies, parks. And all the while, I'm missing my bed and my depressing music and my thoughts.

My first instinct at social occasions is to just sit in a corner quietly. Silences are only uncomfortable when the other person feels the need to make inane small talk. There's this socialized part of me that struggles with the ingrained: "They'll think you're weird!" it whispers. Do something, be something, talk talk talk! So I talk. And I do. And I meet and I sing and I dance, all the while dreaming of inactivity. I don't seek out socialization, and this sometimes upsets people who have known me for a while but not long enough to understand me. They claim I don't like them, I don't want to hang out, I'm angry. But I'm not. I'm just most at peace when I'm by myself. Incessant chattering blocks out the important questions you should be asking yourself as a 23 year old. "What am I doing with my life", I think, is more important than "Where shall we go tonight to get wasted?"

The most frustrating part of being a secret loner is when you finally open up to the people you have known long enough to show your true self to, they disagree. "You're not a loner! You're the most social person I know!" they exclaim. They don't understand that it's a fa├žade to fit into society.

I'm not depressed, I'm not weird (no more than the rest of us). I have dreams and hopes and ambitions and friends and talents and favorite jokes. I just like thinking my thoughts more than I like talking my talks.

The only actual downside that I can see is dying alone. It's very hard to meet someone when you're so inside your own head. And when you do, it's even harder to picture them as an actual deep person (although, granted, they're often not very deep) when all you see is this social being following all the rights cues and talking about the weather. This is why it's so much easier to fall in love online, or with characters in a niche TV show, because you know the person before you meet them. You know all their idiosyncrasies and reactions and expressions and background and life. You understand them before you judge them. Real life is so much more impatient.

When did it become wrong to give greater weight to thoughts? When did shallow interaction become more relevant than occasional powerful action?

At least I know myself and love myself and understand myself. And at least music exists to pull me back, for when my thoughts become too powerful.

As far as I can tell, there really are plenty of perks of being a wallflower (Sorry Mr. Chbosky, I reference your book from way back in the day, and not the silly Hollywood interpretation).