In life, as in writing, I’m wordy and gregarious. I love to talk, I love to analyze, and I love to joke. But, I wouldn’t consider myself extroverted. None of this will come out if I’m uncomfortable. Trouble is: I’m mostly uncomfortable. Being a homebody has always been my way. I like going out, but on my terms. I don’t like going places where there’s a ton of people unless it’s a concert, I don’t like bars unless they’re either not-too-packed or have a lounge-like vibe where I can sit on a couch, look good, and chat over music that’s not too loud or terrible. I’ve been an old man since I was a young boy.
That’s not entirely true. I realized what I liked at a certain point and that was it. By the time I was 21, I had no interest in going out to bars like one is supposed to do. I couldn’t be bothered. Bars are loud, people in bars are loud, no thank you. Did this keep me from alcohol? Most certainly not, but that habit developed on its own with no help from bars. I digress.
I do consider myself an introvert, which is strange considering how much of my life was spent on-stage. But playing music was my job, so I did it. I willfully ignored the audience. After shows, I would deliberately begin packing up gear with little to no break after the concert had ended. While others were decompressing in the dressing room, I wanted to get our gear together so we could get the fuck out of the venue and on our way. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just cleaned up quietly and I loved it.
I’m quiet, I listen, I observe – that’s generally how I operate. I’m not going to say something thing until I’ve assessed a situation. But, for all my introversion and avoidance of people and places, I’m still a ham at heart. Once I’m with my family or friends, I go from the quiet, contemplative, intense man most people see, to a silly, boisterous, lush. Well, to be fair, I’m a lush all the time. But, once I’m comfortable, all bets are off. I’m loud, I sing, I joke non-stop, I do voices, I joke, I dance, I’m flirty, I’m affectionate, and I’m irreverent – but, only when I’m comfortable.
Hence, I’m an introverted ham. I’m a ham when comfortable, but the rest of the time I’m the quiet outsider, observing, taking notes, and planning a response – that sounded nefarious, I assure you I’m not planning any attacks or abductions. I wasn’t always this introverted, it was something I learned. Around 21 or 22, I started to realize that up until that age, I’d been a babbling fool, a blathering buffoon. From birth until their 20’s, human beings learn to talk but never quite learn what to say. And so, they spout whatever comes out. Have you ever spoken to a high school or freshman college student? It’s like talking to a goddamned TikTok video: all slang and nonsense, no substance. I was the same way. I didn’t say anything that mattered. So, I began to shut up. I noticed that I would talk over people, so I shut up more, listened more.
And let me tell you, shutting up really helped. It made me a more attentive and aware person, and as a result, more observant, and less likely to blurt out something dumb – I said, “less likely,” because it certainly still happens. My point is this, I’ve found the balance that works for me. You don’t have to be super-social. You don’t have to go out and do the things that you see on social media. Be yourself. You don’t have to fill up the soundwaves with your every thought. Take things in, say only what you mean to say. But please, let your hair down when you’re with your people.