Over the years, as an introvert and a human who has a hard time tuning into the people around me, I have developed a system of interaction to help me be a participating member of society. I start conversations to avoid being stuck in ones I’m uncomfortable in or hijack them altogether. I use sarcasm and deflection (in the friendliest way possible) and do my best not to make people feel dumb when I swerve into territories that I can talk about forever (which is usually just books or games I’m really into, I get excited, sue me).
I’ve been told that this behavior intimidates people, but everyone who told me that is also currently a friend so obviously it can’t be that bad. Now as I mentioned before, when talking about things I enjoy, I get excited. Not a strange concept. Except I’m a very low energy person, so it just looks like I’m angry. I look intense and a bit of my accent shows up, roughing up my Rs. The thing that ties it all up in a nice menacing-ish bow is that I keep eye contact as much as I can, because looking away will inevitably mean that my attention will drift, and when it eventually does, I end up looking disinterested and aloof. I space out very easily, and with chronic bitchface that tends to unsettle people around me. I’m not mad, I promise, I’m just thinking about podcasts probably.
Now, remember how I said I tend to dominate a conversation? I also change topics fast cause I get so bored so quickly, and that, this, and the other thing seem so much more pressing. The issue with a short attention span working in tandem with my inability to openly display the full spectrum of human emotions such as happiness and excitement, is that it makes socializing difficult. I remember this time that I had friends steer clear of me for like a week when we all hung out because they thought I was mad at someone, while in reality I was just really into the book I was reading at the time (I think it was a Mass Effect novel). Having several people approach and ask if I want to “talk about it” is a bizarre experience when you have no idea what’s going on. One of my good friends even told me that she didn’t talk to me for the first two month that we first had a class together because I looked unapproachable and disinterested. What was actually happening was that I often got really distracted mid-sentence because there were a lot of stimuli in that class.
I’m not a person to hold grudges or dislike people. I don’t “talk shit”, nor do I judge much (we all do a little, don’t lie to yourself). I consider these positive qualities, but for every one of these it seems that there’s a large part of connection that I’m not getting with those around me. If I had the ability to hold my attention for longer than thirty seconds maybe that I’d be more aware of my peers’ lives in the way that I see so many around me do. I don’t really know if fixing this would make things better or if being more invested is not all it’s cracked up to be, but the frustration of being seen as an unapproachable asshole is real.
Is anyone else here an introverted, attention-span-lacking, grumpy-looking person? How do y’alls deal with this? Maybe I should get a fidget ring or something.