Wisdom Iwundu: When It’s Easier to Love from Afar

Whether we’re aware of it or not, a lot of us very often exhibit a touching sense of entitlement to people’s responses to our advances. We believe everyone surely must be having it as fine as we are, or must have such tensile emotional strength as we do. So, when people seem animated today and are suddenly gloomy the next day, we make a fuss of it – or worse, make a Facebook sub.

What we never see is a man who has always been a walking question and has been unable to find answers he wants. We do not see a lady who has just come short of taking more milligrams than her body can handle. We certainly do not see a kid who just got another whammy about the school fees he had been sure of getting the following day. Instead, what our sense of entitlement wants to see, are people who must wave hi back when we call from the other side of the street – or snobs when their arms are too laden to.

We see people that should be tagged fake or boring, because all we’re trying to do is just see, while our “boring” friends who wave back twice in a week are getting increasingly colour-blind; unable to see the beauty in why people wake up to live anymore. And what do we do? We go through our vocabulary to find the best label that fits just fine, not just because we’re not at their end where everything’s grey, no. But because we’re selfish and can’t step out of our circle and reach out to see if they’d catch the grip and hang on, or if they need to go through that phase on their own (and see if they’d do the same when that dark moment comes to take us and we find out that, for an outsider, there’s really no perspective – no way they could understand what really goes on in the mind of someone going through depression). Depression is different definitions, different imaginations, to many people.

It’s not uncommon to hear people form opinions or make mental evaluation of people’s character based on a single hang-out, or perhaps when people avoid eye contact while keeping their chins up or throwing their faces away as they walk along the sidewalk. It’s certainly not a pedestrian life judging people by how they look, how they eat, how they sleep, how they talk when they’re probably had a rough day, how they dress.

It’s fun exercising the liberty to capture someone else’s life in one word of indignation or appraisal. Certainly not a pedestrian life, but sort of a lonely one; as if there’s a continual reassurance that needs to be satisfied; as if to make up for some personal deficiency or some private disability that has been secured from the world. Judging people without giving the benefit of trial so you can feel better or because you can’t step down from your high horse and reach out is simply a waste of priority and school fees.

And what happens when the friendship finally drifts starboard? Plenty of blame to go around, sure. But it’s really because he/she just stopped calling and didn’t text anymore, isn’t it? But it’s never because perhaps they waited for your texts or call all day, wishing that somebody cared to understand the worms in their head, was it? No, of course not, they should have called! Especially if they had problems! Alright, one quick question: when you’re broke and hungry, do you immediately walk to any shop you know to seek credit, or do you sit down and think about it first?

Looking at things from the perspective of the other person may be a conscious discipline we may have to remind ourselves to assume every time, but it’s the recipe for stories that affect the right ventricle. Especially when the other person on the blunt side of isolation is an introvert, who wants to believe that’s what he was meant for.
On the flip side, as human beings too, we have to learn to handle people not understanding us and master the ability to move on after the plaintive sighs. As introverts, we have to deal with addressing people who we’d rather not thank for walking into our lives and managing to make us peek from our shells. As introverts, we have to bear being othered and treated like there’s something fundamentally wrong about us.

Giving in to friendship finally hurts when we (introverts) begin to find recreation in socializing and this sets the pace for a total withdrawal of any active effort it takes to interact and still try to consistently hold up a relationship. In this journey, there are regrets and contrition, but there’s also enlightenment – the struggle and understanding of personality and also the embracing of this internal conflict and again, the fatigue for acceptance.

We learn how to and how not to compliment people, even when we’re wired to say “you’re really cute” when they are really cute, because there’s always the risk of such confessions terminating a friendship. You see, to most people, “you’re really cute” sounds like “I’m into you” and, of course, this builds an unusual resistance, subsequent awkward conversations and, finally, a bold, strict monologue where everything ends (or at least an occurrence that, when you read between the lines, politely asks you to walk away). All because we appreciate the artsy product of our hypersensitive observation and attend to the natural impulse to declare our appreciation. So, next time you see us, we’re either at an art gallery filling niches with well-worn fantasies because those kind of things don’t suddenly change or feel a pseudo-entitlement to a ‘situationship’ when we say “oh, this is so beautiful”, or we’re a six-foot distance from a TV screen, cheering our half of the 22 players because when we say “mehn, dude’s realllyyyy good”, we don’t get to deal with sudden developments which oversees us asking questions on what has abruptly changed.

One psychology hack says that if you want to make a really good player mess up with the ball for the rest of playtime, just walk up to him and say “dude, I’ve been watching you, I like the way you play”.

A lot of things can kill a relationship: a false sense of entitlement, egotistic sparring, inattention, reckless assumptions, and it goes on. Most times, you often walk up and say “you’re really looking good today” and that’s enough to mess up that friendship. It grows awkward, with no success at redressing, until it has to end. Slowly, you learn to flip the coin and stay in your shell, shutting out the labels that’d never go back in time to when you stepped out of your comfort zone and actually made an effort. The contingent of name-callers would never care for how you end up there or why you’re the way you are. They just want something to talk about and there they have you.

Sooner or later, you figure out you’re not wired to hold cold shoulders against your passion for expression and can’t mute the intense urge to talk about what you see, to appreciate beauty where and when you have it, but just as surely, you learn to bridle your desire and call unto the benevolence of creation from afar.

Introverts are known to be loyal friends, but the rebellious trend in the demand of modern relationships may just be the culmination of the efforts of right-wing extroverts in ensuring introverts keep quiet and stay silent. Loving from afar, and admiring our affections from a distance – I think that’s what works and that’s what’s best. For us introverts, at least