Being An Introvert.
First things first. Coast was amazing and hot and beautiful and chaotic and did I mention hot? It was so hot I seriously considered sleeping outside on a mkeka and being a Nakuru person, that is saying a lot.
There was so much to see and do and complain about and enjoy and have a bus full of students lost in its industrial area.
It was actually my first time there and I have never been happier to lose the v-card as I am at the moment.
If you haven’t caught on yet, I am trying to say that I did not post last week because I had travelled to Mombasa for the better part of the week and I couldn’t post last Thursday because I left my laptop in cold and freezing Nairobi.
It was definitely, absolutely and totally not because I was lazy and the heat got to me and I lost track of time and I realized on Friday that I had not posted. Definitely not.
So, the bus. There was so much energy in all areas. So much creativity and fun and happy-angry people in there it was crazy. My back was killing me and a whole morning was wasted driving around lost and we were all playing at being happy or just plain old pissed at our first day.
We went by school bus. University bus to be precise since it wasn’t all yellow and ugly. There was chatter. Lots of it. It felt like people spoke to each other the whole journey there and still had more things to say to each other after we arrived at around half past midnight.
I was not talking to people for more than 5 minutes. Rude, right? It wasn’t intentional. I tried to but after the first 3 minutes I started missing my thoughts while staring out the window, meaning I was forced to cut conversations short because every fiber in my being was screaming defeat. I couldn’t do it. Especially not on the journey there. I was bubbling underneath to read every sign post and every banner hoisted up. To know where we were at each moment by not looking at Google Maps but by staring out into unknown lands and reading where we were.
We were to think of stories to write along the way. There is a school project where we make a newspaper with all the perks and since everything is a story, I didn’t want to miss anything along the way. At least that’s what I thought I was doing.
All through school, I have been the one person who is most likely to lack a partner in class when the teacher says everyone should pair up. I prefer the group kind of assignments, simply because they are easier. I can place myself strategically around an already formed group when I see they lack a few more members and I will automatically be in the group. But the pairing part? Na-ah.
Usually, I have one to two people in a class that I am friends with. And sure, I might talk to a good number of people in the class, say 5, but I will most definitely not always be comfortable to be paired with any of them.
I have always had the kinds of friendships where if you see me, you have to ask where the other person is, and often, they experience the same thing. And I bank on these friendships. They are my world.
The friends have to understand me, understand who I am and that I will need time alone in a day to get lost in my thoughts. and more often than not, we end up having a falling out. It breaks my heart, but life goes on.
It’s not all sad though, my best friends are these two amazing souls I have known for about 8 years now and they make me happy, despite the many falling outs of the other friendships I try to conjure up.
Now, the bus. I brought up the friendship thing because seated in that bus for 12 hours got me thinking. Do extroverts have this same problem? The bus was crawling with them. Students, all who I have shared a class with at some point and some who I have spoken with but none who I was really comfortable to talk to about how beautiful the stars looked in the nighttime or how my butt ached or how much my brain needed to be picked on because I had so many things I was thinking about at the same time that I wanted to scream.
Do extroverts also lose friends? And what do they do if in the rare case that it happens? Do they go out and look for new friends immediately they lose the ones they have? Do they mourn the loss of good friendships? Do they feel the emptiness that comes with losing the one person you depend on for months or years on end? Or do they just cruise through life, being the friends that let go immediately we really need them.
That bus had all characters. It had the silent shy types. The loud obnoxious types. The brooding types. The travelling while reading types (my favorite humans). The book hater types. The talking because they were talked to types. The talking just because types. The walking in the bus types. The standing up only when the bus stops types. The going to the loo types. The not peeing while travelling types. And the two lecturers and two drivers.
We stopped at Mtito Andei. Both times. On the journey to they told us that was supper. On the journey from we had breakfast there. Friendly people. One good but expensive hotel. Chips kuku was 400 bob! Only if I was mad! I ended up spending slightly more than that amount though, but I got myself an Afia Mixed Fruit and some nice nyama choma and ugali and kachumbari, a one and a half litre of water and a pack of gum. Totally worth it.
The Voi Standard Gauge Railway terminal looked amazing in the dark. Then we went through Taru and a place called Maji ya Chumvi and Mariakani and Jomvu then Mombasa. I thought the Maji ya Chumvi place had to be the oceans headquarters because my braids still taste salty.
Here’s what being an introvert is like;
1. When you are sitting comfortably with the people you think are calm enough to be your friends and their friends show up, that is the most awkward thing in the world. You never know what to say because suddenly, even your friend becomes an alien who talks of strange things you have never heard of. It gets worse when the intruder friends ask why you are so quiet and you had not even noticed that you were quiet because your mind was running at speeds you had not realized it could reach but you know that they would not understand that so you just stretch the corners of your mouth in an attempt at a polite enough smile and hope to heaven that your friend will explain that you are sick and need to go home. (Breathe)
2. You are in class. You have an idea to what an answer could be to the question asked by the lecturer/teacher but no one else has raised their hands so you too are not going to. But because of this, the lecturer/teacher just randomly out of the blue says that because no one has answered, he or she will have to call on some random person to answer. This is where you try to shrink yourself into the seat but it only ends up making you squirm and now the lecturer has you in their sights and he or she is totally going to choose you but the flip of an idea that you had to the answer has also squeezed itself out of your brain at the same time you tried to get swallowed by the seat.
3. Those dreadful PTA meetings in schools that we loved for the food but hated for the teacher-parent sit down. I can’t count the number of times my parents have heard the phrase “She is well behaved and polite but she should participate more in class” or “Your daughter is a very bright girl, all she needs to do is answer questions in class. Thank-you-so-much Mrs. Randa from primary. (PS. Sorry Mom)
4. You know that time, when you were young, and relatives would call and ask to talk to you, but you clearly shake your head at your parents but they see it as an invitation to make your life a living hell? Then they smile sheepishly at you and say to the phone “She is right here, she is actually begging to talk to you”. I hate those times. These parents don’t have our backs no more.
5. Campus. Still in class. I swear classes are the worst, apart from the learning and gaining knowledge part. So in class, you have done an impeccable job on your assignment and everything is in order, but for some devilish reason, the person required to make the presentation of the work to the rest of the class is out somewhere pretending to be sick and so with your heart thudding in your chest, like those Tum Tum West African drums of primary school essays and compositions, you get infront of the class. Everything is going well, you even start tooting your own horn until some mumu at the back shouts “I can’t hear you”. Ladies and gentlemen, this is where we wish to kill ourselves or George Bush the mumu at the back with your sneaker.
6. You know when you are thirsty and with a friend at their house and their mom asks if you want a drink and you awkwardly say “No, thanks”. Because you want to seem polite and you were given explicit instructions at home to not eat elsewhere… but the parent asks if you are sure about not wanting a drink and suddenly the Kalahari invades your throat and you are in desperate need of that drink but you now cannot say you would like a drink because the parent will start saying things like you should not be afraid of her and that you should feel at home and that she is not a monster and you know you do not need any more awkwardness in your life so you remain adamant with your Kalahari throat and all your mouth can say is a frail “No, thanks. I’m fine”. But even then, the last part of what you say does not come out clearly because it feels like your brain is slowly being encroached into the desert.
This, is what it loosely feels like to be an introvert, without the daily struggle and the strange looks and the whispers that you are a snobbish B-word and the awkwardness at parties and the loneliness of having no friends and the learning to accept and love your introverted self.
But introvert, extrovert, you need to learn to love yourself. To not depend solely on others for happiness. To make yourself your own entertainment. And be good at it. This has to be the ultimate law of life. Because until you get to the point that you are sincerely bored with yourself for days on end, then you will have learnt everything that makes you tick. And since this will obviously take you long enough, by the end of it, all you will have learnt is to truly love yourself. Isn’t that the ultimate goal to a happy life?
PS. Sorry about the long sentences. This was kind of a rant and I wanted you to read it the exact same way that the words were coming to me. Glad you were in my head.