How I accidentally went from introvert to extrovert
There are three girls. The first is eleven years old, and her name is Alice. Next is Brittany, who is fourteen. And last is Christina, who is eighteen. They all exist at the same time, but in separate dimensions.
Alice is shy, anxious and honestly wishes she was someone else. She has no friends at school, and is scared of most people who talk to her. She has bruises underneath her jumper, her lips are chewed within an inch of their lives and her nails are bitten off to the quick. Her eyes are dead, and she cries at least five times a day. All she wants to do is go home; and when she is home, she’s shut in her room for most of the day, curtains drawn and headphones on with her head in a book, escaping to another world, to another person’s life.
If you ask her about the future, she’ll shrug and tell you your own words in a different order. Because she doesn’t know what she wants from the future. Her teachers tell her she’ll be an artist, her parents want the best for her, those girls at school call her names and say she’ll never be anything. She doesn’t know how to tell herself any different. For a while now, she’s given up on being anything more than a waitress who works 9–5; in fact, that seems like a goal, for when she grows up. It feels like something to strive towards. But she doesn’t really believe it will come true, so she doesn’t tell anyone about it.
All she really wants is for the loneliness to go away.
Brittany is confused. On one hand, she knows she has to deal with people in order to get things in life. On the other hand, people are so annoying. She spends her days reading, alternating between fiction and textbooks. She has no friends, and has pushed away anyone and everyone who could care about her; she stopped letting her parents in months ago. Her thighs are covered in cuts and scabs and scars, her arms in bruises she gave herself, and there are designer bags under her eyes. She doesn’t look as stressed as Alice, though; instead, she just looks like she’s had a long day. Her hair is greasy and oily, and she knows it looks gross but can’t bring herself to care. She’s a healthy weight and likes the way she looks. Sometimes. The rest of the time, she messages men twice her age, desperate for them to call her pretty and say they want her. But she makes sure to never send any pictures, no matter how often they ask; she hates her body, so no one else gets to see it. And besides, she reasons — people share photos, and everyone is only six seconds apart, so surely someone she knew would end up recognizing her and then she would be in trouble.
She just wants a friend, that’s all; a friend to reassure her, to encourage her. But instead she gets older men sending her things she doesn’t want to read, and telling her they like her act she puts on for them. Close enough, she tells herself.
If you ask her about the future, she’ll shrug and change the subject. Because the truth is she doesn’t believe in a future. All her life, people have told her she’ll be all these different things, but at her old school she was told she was nothing, would always be nothing. In her mind, her only future is very near, and involves a blade, bottle of bleach, and a goodbye note.
She’s just so tired; it’s been a long life, not a long day.
Christina is beautiful, manipulative, broken and magnetic. She is everything she ever wanted to be, and nothing like she thought she could be. She has friends — more than she can name. They’re all online so that makes it easy and annoying to stay in contact with them. She has over 800 followers on one app, easily. She can wrap almost anyone around her finger with a few little texts. She always gets her way. One of her favourite things to do is meet new people and talk to them and make them like her. Whenever she wants a compliment, she clicks her fingers and five come her way at once. If she gets annoyed with someone, she can break them down to tears with a few simple messages and without batting an eye; they didn’t give her what she wanted, so now they have to pay the consequences.
Ask her about the future, and you’ll get a different answer each day. Writer, author, journalist, translator, artist, photographer, business owner, model. She loves to read, but it’s just a hobby which she does when she has spare time. Her life is great. She has at least three guys asking to be her boyfriend on any given day; she rejects them all but keeps them around as friends. Of course, she loves cars and boys and men and all things in between. In fact, ask her about any hot car and she can rhyme off facts about it by heart, guaranteed. She’s waiting for driving lessons, and wants a car by the time she’s nineteen; also, she’s fully intent on going to France for school, for no other reason than because she wants to. To Alice and Brittany, she is everything they want to be and everything they’re scared of.
In reality, she just wants to make the best of life, because who knows when the apocalypse or zombie uprising will happen; we’re all screwed then.
Now, I’ll tell you something about Alice, Brittany and Christina: they’re all me.
Not separate personalities, but different stages in my life.
When I was eleven, I was a complete introvert and in hindsight felt like I was allergic to people; they were so draining. By the time I was fourteen, I was an ambivert — I had been pulled out of school at eleven and homeschooled since; in fact, I would continue to be homeschooled until I went to college at sixteen. Now I’m eighteen, getting ready to start driving lessons in the new year (waiting for winter to pass, because learning on ice while the streets are packed with Christmas-and-general-holiday-weirdos in a rush with spice lattes doesn’t sound nice), looking at which type of car I want to get. I’m studying a course at university which eleven-and-fourteen-years-old me never would have felt confident enough to do, and I’m counting the days until I can go to France — a few years ago, I was adamant I would never leave my country and hated going so much as an hour on the train or bus to anywhere.
When I was at college, I was still an ambivert; I made friends, but I didn’t keep them or really let them in. I didn’t go out after class hours and I didn’t drink or really do anything. But I liked being with other people — sometimes it gave me more energy, sometimes it drained me.
Now, I love being around people. I love watching them, listening to them, talking to them. I can’t get enough of them. As long as they’re not children. Ew.
Somehow, being isolated made me an extrovert. When I was younger and “social”, I hated people. Now I love them. So what happened in between? My personal opinion is that I got tired of isolation, my brain got jealous of hearing about all these other people, seeing the lives of the people in books and movies and on TV, and decided “We are having that so install new update”, and somehow rebooted itself into extrovert mode over the years.
Whatever it was that happened, I’m grateful for it. I’m so much more confident, both in myself and in — well, myself. My looks, my abilities, my choices and my desires. I love this version of me; I think it’s the best one yet. I’m weird, I’m unique and I’m a little unhinged; I’m me.
Don’t get me wrong, it was great being an introvert, and an ambivert. But I honestly can not imagine going back to that. I would feel so lonely and deprived. If I go three hours without a text or a comment or a like, I feel deprived.
In many ways, I’m like Tinkerbell now; I need attention or I basically die.
Which is the polar-opposite of Younger Me.
So dear eleven-and-fourteen-years-old me, chin up; life gets better. Just wait a few more years — you’ll be doing and saying and thinking things you can’t even imagine.