I live in a basement apartment with one window at the same level as the sidewalk, giving me a nice view of the legs of passers-by. During the summer this window is open nearly every moment I’m at home. This past summer, I was working at a job which I had to get up really early for. So early, in fact, that it would still be dark as I drank my coffee and watched videos on my laptop, all part of my everyday morning routine. One particular morning, however, I was following this routine, when it was interrupted by someone standing outside my window, staring at me.
I don’t remember which one of us said “hello” first, but I soon found myself in the middle of an annoying conversation. It was early enough in the morning that others would consider it late at night, and the person I was talking to was clearly someone coming home late from a party or some event where he had been drinking a lot.
It was, of course, a very unusual conversation, made all the more unusual by the fact that I wasn’t finding it at all difficult. Conversations, especially unexpected ones, are normally very awkward for me, filled with stuttering and awkward pauses where I’m trying to think of something to say. This time, however, none of those problems came up.
I assume it’s because the conversation was so unusual that I had no trouble with it. Typically, conversations are very formulaic and my problem is that I don’t know the formula. If the other person says something and my reply deviates too far from what is expected, the result is simply awkwardness for everybody. Therefore, every conversation is rife with the peril of saying the wrong thing and turning it into uncomfortable silence.
In the conversation I had that morning, however, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. Since the conversation was so out-of-the-ordinary, I didn’t have to worry about following the formula, because there was none.
This may be more of a story about social anxiety than introversion, but it’s only natural that someone who often prefers to avoid socializing isn’t as practiced at it. Don’t get the wrong picture of me, I may not be the best conversationalist, but I get along fine with other people. Also, don’t think I wasn’t freaked out to see a face in my window, peering at me out of the dark. I know I wasn’t in any real danger, but, once it was over, I still got up to close the window and draw the curtain.