After years of drinking through social engagements to make them bearable, I finally acknowledged my fear of talking to strangers and made peace with it
I was on holiday in Turkey, visiting a Roman amphitheatre at dusk, when I realised I was an introvert. As the sun dimmed and cicadas hummed behind olive trees, my friends and I decided to have our photo taken. “Here,” I said, thrusting my phone at a friend. “Will you ask that person over there to take a picture of us?” He laughed. “You won’t talk to strangers, will you?”
I protested, feebly. But when I thought about it, I knew it was true: I absolutely hate talking to people I don’t know. I would rather stumble around lost for hours than ask for directions. If I see a co-worker in the office kitchen, I turn and wait for them to leave rather than stay and chat. I swerve after-work drinks as a rule, and networking events feel like a complicated sort of torture. The majority of social interactions are routinely painful, and the only ones that are not involve a set of long-standing friends who I keep about me like the petulant child-queen of a medieval court.