Between being outgoing and loquacious, or introverted and reticent, I’m mostly the latter. My childhood ripped me open to a world of books than people. I was tad awkward around people especially girls. But my social skills while relating to boys weren’t so bad neither was it that good.
They were in-between that I was partly shy around boys I liked, and comfortable around the ones I didn’t fancy. How well I could socialize with boys, I think, would be due to the fact I loved to do “boy’s stuff.” I know how we call this a social construct; the idea that they are things boys can only do, the activities considered to be acceptable for girls, and what and what is ladylike and unladylike.
So it was boy’s stuff because I only saw boys my brother’s age do them, and not girls my age. Growing up, I and my brother would watch violent ‘anime’ and ‘kungfu’ movies together. Sometimes, we would play-fight the moves we have seen displayed; the drunken master move was a favourite. We played football, which I was terrible at. I was often the goalkeeper while he and my sister played the ball in the small corner of our yard. Our neighbours always had something to say about our ball-kicking in the yard, probably because we knocked out buckets and kicked the ball over zincs and fences. We were boisterous kids – and they hated that.
As we grew older, we switched to playing football video games, which my brother repeatedly beat me at with far better scores. But I mostly loved to play the adventure or wrestling games.
Instead of hugs, I learnt to knock knuckles – an affectionate welcoming among boys. I didn’t play dress up or pick up on how to paint my nails. Rather I was busy riding seesaws and watching the boys ride their bicycles. I never rode a bicycle because I was too scared and afraid I would fall on my face halfway through the streets.
I wasn’t the typical ‘tomboy’ although I wore boy shorts and shirt. I was still a girly girl: I had Sunday dresses and fancy shoes. I merely knew how to do boy’s stuff. Being interested in activities boys usually did, made it easy for me to start a conversation with a boy because I knew what they liked to talk about.
My teenage years were a bore; if we are defining the idea “fun” according to society’s acceptable narrative, then it was. I spent hours reading paper back mushy romance novels, they were either brought from a roadside bookstore or borrowed from a classmate. She had many novels in her locker and read during them short and long breaks. Always had the front page with the picture of a woman and a man kissing and laying half-naked under her school books.
Nora Robert’s books introduced me to the cognition of what love and romance meant. Girls my age, were experiencing what it meant; in small dark corners where boys held them close to kiss them and squeeze their breasts. They were having boyfriends and sexual orgasm, while I had book orgasm every night crouched on the floor reading with a barely lit up candle. “Having boyfriends,” to teenage girls were something so exotic, to them it implied how pretty and desirable they were. I didn’t have any boyfriend therefore I was considered a boring teenager. I was the placid kid in class whose name hardly came up on the list of noisemakers. Frequently buried in a book, and I didn’t gab much with anyone. I didn’t have much friends – at that time i didn’t find it imperative to have one.
As an adult, the concept of fun became a bit broader. “The parties, clubbing, sex, drinking, smoking,” came to be the new riveting ways to have fun as a blooming adult. Parties and clubs were dangerously loud places I dread to be in. I hated loud and also raucous people. That quality in a man was a total turn off, there is a distinctness in being outspoken and outegerously “too” loud, the former was edgy. I might tolerate that in women but won’t go on for long before my disdain shows up fervently.
This was the way I felt about parties and clubs too – places chockfull with drunk sweaty bodies dancing in circles to loud music and voices hoarse from screaming out the lyrics of the songs that played. I didn’t understand why people who fancied being crammed somewhere with rip-roaring music on a Friday night were seen as fun, not only did it puzzle me, but irked me too knowing my idea of staying at home was regarded as boredom.
I am a teetotaler. Although, I can’t finish a bottle of beer, I manage to get drunk even with just two glasses of wine or a shot of dry gin. I’m lightheaded and my hangovers come with a slight migraine, sleeping in half the day, and being not so active. I don’t like to dance in public places. I am shy when people watch me, I preferred to dance in the confines of my room or in the bathroom. So going to a party or club on a Friday night, when I am not going to drink, dance, but listen to loud music and people hurling at each other definitely is no fun for me. Yet I am the uncool one.
Cool and uncool things. The cool things: Unbridled sex; the notion that sex doesn’t have to be traditional, wanting to build meaning connections or seek emotional connection around it. One nightstands, a quickie in club toilets and hookups meant your sex life wasn’t “boring.” It was the new ‘fad,’ while traditional instincts about sex were relegated as old-fashioned. Cow girl reserve, doggy style, being choked and BDSM were how exciting sex was for you. Missionary, now a lame invention. Finally the denouncement of ‘virgins’ as uncool, boring and inexperienced everywhere on social media. How voiterouperous you were about sex online , made you ultimately cool. Apparently to be a cool person was simple: it only required irresponsible behavior and wildness.
I finally have categorized myself to be uncool and introverted after I learned what it actually meant to be one. And it isn’t about not having much friends. I don’t actually like company and my lifestyle is subtly not-so adventurous but low-key.
For me and similarly-inclined introverts, reality is “in here” in the realm of books and music. Our independence and self-referential quality and ability to not need people or do ‘things’ to make ourselves happy. My intuits come through reflection, rather than external stimiulus. I’m awfully subtle about the way I live. I crave tranquillity. I just need to take long showers listening to any genre of music that suits my mood at the moment. To clean and tidy up, to watch a movie or a Tv show. To organize my thoughts in privacy and stillness. To stare at art, read a book, and letting my mind wander aimlessly. I don’t need to be at parties; parties are work for me. They take effort. It’s no fun for me. I dread them because they take me out of my element. I don’t like small talk. It is boring. And feels fake and forced. I enjoy connections at a deeper level, and parties isn’t the right atmosphere for that. Or I’m just going to sit there and observe. A special skill of peripheral vision to know what is happening without having to engage in a perceived activity.
I don’t want to be cool too. I’m conservative and open-minded, though I’m more nuanced in my open-mindedness. None of these cool things interest me, neither am I bored of these other uncool things. Fun for me is: alone time, peace and quiet, books, the occasional meaningful conversations, music, more books, netflixing and other streaming.
It is okay to be cool, but it is not okay to disparage others for being uncool because their idea of “cool” doesn’t conform to yours. If you are about unbridled sex life, it is fine, shaming others for being traditional about it isn’t. Drink beer, but don’t shame me for wanting to take Soda on a Friday night. Party, but don’t call me boring for wanting to stay home. Or lonely, for always reading books.