“Yes, Holmes,” Watson was saying, “but what of Lord Carbuncle’s Missing Whatsit?”
“Immaterial now, Doctor,” the Great Detective replied, “for we have a new client on the stair. Mid-thirties, former military, stressed but not exactly unhappy. He has a problem, and it vexes him.”
“My God man, how could you tell all that?” Watson exclaimed, half-rising from his comfy chair.
“Well, for starters, he’s the one writing this,” Holmes said, the hint of a smile quirking his lips.
“Ah, ah yes,” Watson said. “Quite right.”
“So what is the problem, my good man?” Holmes asked. I stood in the doorway, taking in the scene, feeling distinctly out of place in jeans and a t-shirt, standing on the edge of the Victorian sitting room, with its gas lamps and ancient writing desk and such.
“Ah, well, here’s the thing. I’m an extrovert.”
“A what now?” Watson asked, furrowing his brow as though I’d outed myself as a pervert.
“One who draws energy from being among and with other people,” Holmes said, waving to his lifelong friend. “Please pardon the Doctor’s diminished vocabulary. He’s just here to help me explain things in a humorous or revelatory way.”
“Right, yeah,” I said, stepping into the room and taking a seat opposite Holmes. “So, I like hanging out, talking, just seeing other people. It’s good for me.”
“That’s hardly a problem. Just join a social club!” Watson cried, oddly the one irritable at the new case, while Holmes sat serene, sensing there was more to it than just that.
“Well, they’re not exactly as prevalent where I live–21st century Michigan–as they are here. The internet kind of took their place, which is fine for the introverts who need to be able to turn off the company of people with the literal flip of a switch. Not so good for us on the other end of the spectrum.”
“I’m beginning to see the shape of the problem,” Holmes said, puffing on his pipe and leaning back. “Now, what of your workplace?”
“Well, I don’t know about 19th century London, but these days work is just as enervating as it is energizing in that respect. It comes out as a wash, and before you suggest something else, the vast majority of people at work are not the sort I’d really want to hang out with outside of work. Especially given my skills–the computer guy–it all goes back to computers one way or another.”
“Now you also fancy yourself a writer, do you not?” Holmes asked.
“How’d you know?” I said, forgetting myself.
“You’re writing this,” he said, simply.
“Ah, right. So yeah, that’s a problem, too. If I were a soccer player or rock climber or something, I’d have other opportunities, but my chosen hobby and second career is writing, and a social club for writers is very nearly an oxymoron. Not to mention our uneven distribution, geographically.”
“So there are conventions, are there not?” he asked. “Did you not just come back from one?”
“Well yes,” I said, “but it seems like the energy I get from a convention is spent pretty quickly, especially with three little kids at home. And the conventions can be expensive. There’s one every weekend, somewhere, it seems, but traveling to all of them would bankrupt me pretty quickly.”
“What are you doing now, to be with other people?”
“Saying yes to everything, it seems. I work on one convention and am contemplating a second. I try to play games, though timing always seems to conflict. I play online games in the hopes of chatting with the other players, just to get that little rush and stimulate my mind.”
Watson cast a significant glance at the desk drawer where Holmes’ personal stash once lived. Holmes merely pursed his lips and shook his head.
“Yeah,” I said, “it is kind of like a drug that way, and withdrawal can be hell. But without it at all… I am like that revving engine that shakes itself to pieces. I make more and more bad choices, over-committing, over-extending myself. Most of what I do now in order to hang out with other people is effectively indistinguishable from work, including a ridiculous commute.”
“You don’t have any local friends?” Watson asked, looking incredulous. “People you can just sit with and discuss the affairs of the day?”
“In a word… no,” I said and shrugged. “I’ve drifted away from the people I was friends with locally, and attempts to reconnect always seem a little awkward. I want to move closer to the people I am friends with now, but that’s no guarantee that we won’t drift apart in the future. I’d like to build some strategies and connections that will help me out wherever I am.”
“Well, my good man, I’m afraid I cannot help you after all,” Holmes said, standing.
“What?!” I said, sitting bolt upright.
“Figment of your imagination, remember?” he said, tapping the stem of his pipe against my temple. “If you could have solved this yourself you would have, and not written this deranged self-insertion fanfic.”
“Ah-ha!” I said.
“That way lies only misery,” Holmes said, his face a mask beneath which lurked sadness as Watson looked on with disguised longing.
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” I said, slumping. “So what do I do?”
“Ask the people out there,” he said, waving his pipe at your computer screen. “What do the extroverts among them do it? How do they balance the isolation of writing with the need to be near and engaged with people? Do they prefer a few, close, everyday friendships, or do they make do with a lot of relatively shallow, occasional friends?”
“That’s just so lame, Holmes,” I said. “It just might work.”
Postscript: So yeah, after the inspiring example of a couple of creative-type friends, I’ve decided to own my personal struggles and challenges. I’m doing it in a rather silly way, but this is a real thing that really has a tendency to interfere with my life and general mental health. Examples of how you cope, as an extrovert are welcome, internet helpiness, especially from people who don’t face similar challenges, is not. If your comment could be boiled down to “Just do something different from what you are doing,” then please save it. I’d rather hear what you find helpful.
Mirrored from Bum Scoop.