“Why don’t you like Dolores Park? It’s so pretty and alive.”
I was asked this recently and paused momentarily before responding. There’s always the initial gut reaction to say something an extroverted millennial would say: “Oh I mean I LOVE it. How could you not? I just feel so carefree and happy here surrounded by all of these people!” It’s much easier to say that and move on with the conversation. I’ve found for me though that if I don’t say something about scenes I like, I get invited to go to places and events that I don’t really enjoy by friends I do enjoy spending time with. In highschool and most of college, I had the excuse of athletics which I hid behind fiercely: “I can’t – I have to lift. I can’t – I have a game this weekend. I can’t – I have practice. I can’t – I need to go to bed early before my game tomorrow”. It rolled off the tongue and no one questioned it. I was and am in many ways still a dedicated athlete. I love sports and I love being outside. Now that I’m in the real world with activities mostly revolving around alcohol and/or relaxing, I’m finding it harder to socialize. There’s no more pick up soccer or lifting sessions to meet people. It’s now down to sitting in Dolores Park or going to a bar with friends. This leads me to what my post is really about: being open about my introversion. I realized one day that I need to set expectations and express how I feel about going to certain places in order to both better my friendships and better my experiences with those friends. My response these days is something like this “I’m not a huge fan of crowds and Dolores on a Saturday feels like going to a mall to me. I do love going on a Thursday afternoon to read though – want to join?! We could get coffee beforehand!” & if I do find myself in an introvert’s nightmare (read: a very loud and packed bar), I’ve learned to start finding 1v1 conversations and quieter corners to create my own little safe haven from the chaos. To those introverts out there, don’t be afraid to be open about your introversion. It lessens confusion for others when you’re not having a good time at a seemingly awesome place/event and lets you both meet the other halfway.